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Valerie DeBenedette is managing editor of Drug Topics.
ADA violations net pharmacist over $1 million.
A jury found that Walmart was wrong to have fired a pharmacist with multiple sclerosis who was not able do immunizations. The verdict awards the pharmacist, Lori Jacobs, more than $1 million because the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Walmart told its pharmacists in 2016 that they all would be required to give immunizations. Jacobs had worked at the Walmart pharmacies in Port Angeles and Sequim, WA, from 2007 to 2017, when she was let go from her job, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
Jacobs also has cerebral palsy in addition to multiple sclerosis. “Having lived with both cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis for almost my entire life, I know how hard it is for disabled employees to break through the stereotypes put in place by employers,” Jacobs told the News Tribune. “I am grateful to the jury for recognizing the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and hopefully my determination will help others avoid what I went through.”
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Walmart issued a statement on the verdict: “Providing immunizations is an essential job function for pharmacists at Walmart and leading pharmacy chains across the country, and it’s a vital service that local communities depend on.” The big-box chain noted that being able to provide immunizations was ruled to be a valid essential job function for pharmacists by the U.S. Court of Appeals two years ago. It said that it is looking at its options, including appealing the decision.
Jacobs’ lawyer noted during closing arguments that immunizations make up only a small fraction of a pharmacist’s job.
The $1 million award includes $221,566 in past wages and salaries for Jacobs, and $223,054 in missed future earnings. The jury also awarded her $650,000 for emotional distress, but federal law sets the cap for those damages at $300,000, according to the News Tribune.