Michael Trimble should be the kind of success story any employer would be proud to have. Born in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Trimble had his deformed arms removed at birth, yet he got a "temp-to-hire" position in the human resources department at Kroger's Oregon offices. Without hands, Trimble uses his feet for typing and fine motor activities, and quickly became one of the office's star employees.
But instead of championing Trimble's achievements, one supervisor began making odd requests, specifically that Trimble carry his bike, which he used for transportation to and from work, up flights of stairs or push it through a back courtyard. And when Trimble pushed back against such requests, he was fired.
"Nothing Short of Amazing"
According to Trimble's disability discrimination lawsuit, he racked up numerous citations for the quality of his work:
- "On March 3, 2016, Defendant Kroger rated Michael Trimble's performance as 100%";
- "On March 11, 2016, Michael Trimble received the second highest score in Defendant Kroger's KCC Department on its KCC 'final exam.' His score was 98%";
- "On March 15, 2016, [supervisors] told Michael Trimble that his statistics were nothing short of amazing. His statistics showed an Actual Call Waiting (ACW) of zero (0) seconds. ACW is time spent between taking calls and finishing the notations/documentation. The less ACW an employee has, the more productive the employee is";
- "On March 23, 2016, Mr. Pickle praised Michael Trimble for having outstanding metrics"; and
- "On March 24, 2016, Michael Trimble received two performance audits from Defendant Kroger. Both audits were glowing in praise of his performance".
On March 25, 2016, Trimble was fired.
Push Comes to Shove
Why? Apparently because he was unable to, without arms, carry his bicycle up a flight of stairs or push it through an outdoor courtyard. A manager in the Kroger 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 had to explain he was unable to carry the bicycle up stairs because he has no arms.
The manager later asked Trimble to stop riding his bicycle through a pavilion on the campus, and told him he had to walk his bike through the pavilion. From the suit:
Michael Trimble explained to Brandy Velez that he could not walk the bicycle across the pavilion because he does not have arms. Brandy Velez asked, "Can't you just push your bike?" Michael Trimble replied, "How can I push my bike? I don't have any arms?"
Trimble finally asked for an accommodation to ride his bicycle closer to the door, but the accommodation was denied. Trimble was fired days later allegedly because he "continued to ride his bike through the pavilion after being asked not to do so."
Trimble then sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming Kroger failed to make reasonable accommodations for his disability and that his firing was discriminatory.
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