A former employee of Cincinnati-based grocery chain The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) has filed a discrimination and harassment lawsuit in federal court based on claims Kroger fired him because of his mental and physical disabilities, and despite his multiple commendations and a successful work history.
Plano resident Karl Tipple, 24, filed the suit on September 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Plano, case number 4:12-CV-00573, after receiving Right to Sue Letters from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Texas Workforce Commission.
The lawsuit alleges that the manager of Kroger Store 581, located in the 2900 block of Custer Road in Plano, repeatedly harassed Mr. Tipple for more than a year, including referring to Mr. Tipple on numerous occasions as a “f------ retarded idiot” who was “too stupid to live.”
Mr. Tipple, who began working at another Kroger location more than six years ago, suffers from an attention-deficit disorder and partial deafness, and has an IQ that allows him to read and write on a third-grade level. He was transferred to Kroger’s Custer Road location in November 2010 as an Assistant Bakery Manager, but was quickly demoted to a checker and bagger position and was forced to file multiple grievances to gain full-time employment from his supervisors.
“This is clearly a case where a high-functioning person with special needs has been victimized by the prejudices and bias of his manager, all supported by other Kroger officials,” says attorney Matthew Scott of the Kendall Law Group in Dallas, who represents Mr. Tipple. “Karl has a longstanding record as an exemplary Kroger employee, but that didn’t seem to matter when he moved to the new store. After his transfer, Karl faced a series of attempts to bully and scare him into quitting.”
According to the lawsuit, the store manager frequently yelled at Mr. Tipple on the sales floor, forced him to work alone on certain tasks, brought unsubstantiated allegations against him from other employees, and ultimately filed a false customer complaint that was later withdrawn. In addition, the manager confiscated Mr. Tipple’s personal cell phone, apparently believing that the phone was being used to document violations of corporate and union policies by the manager and other employees. Until his firing in December 2011, Mr. Tipple served as the youngest elected Steward of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Kroger’s history.
The Kendall Law Group is a trial firm that represents individuals in employment discrimination and securities fraud lawsuits against companies. Visit the firm’s website at http://www.kendalllawgroup.com.