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The Practical EmployerThe 4th Nominee for Worst Employer of 2017 is … the Callous Non-accommodator

Kroger's is being sued by Michael Trimble, an armless man who could not push his bicycle across a workplace courtyard.

 

 

Originally from Ukraine, Michael was born without arms as a result of birth defects resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He rides a modified bike designed specifically for him and his disability. He is extraordinarily inspirational.

He is also now unemployed.

Trimble’s main form of transportation is a specially designed bicycle with handlebars that extend to his right shoulder and the stump of his left arm. Every day, he bicycled the miles from his home in Gresham to Kroger’s main offices in southeast Portland.

Two months into his assignment, Trimble had racked up numerous positive performance reviews and the second-highest performance score in his office. But a manager in Kroger’s loss prevention office called to complain about his habit of bringing his bicycle in through the building’s front door, and asked him to carry it up the back stairs.

Trimble says he explained the obvious: That he can’t carry his bike up a flight of stairs because he doesn’t have arms.

The manager relented, but said Trimble had to walk his bike through an outdoor courtyard. Again, Trimble said he could not do that because he doesn’t have arms.

“Can’t you just push your bike?” a supervisor asked him.

“How can I push my bike?” he responded. “I don’t have any arms.”

On March 24, 2016, Trimble says, he received two glowing performance audits. But the next day Kroger fired him for refusing to push his bike through the courtyard.

Last week, Trimble filed a disability-discrimination lawsuit against Kroger.

Firing an employee who must ride his bike across your courtyard instead of pushing it because he lacks arms not only induces cringes of disgust but also earns you a nomination as the Worst Employer of 2017.

Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. To comment, email editors@workforce.com. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.