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BRIEF: Hickory store discriminated against manager, lawsuit says

News-Topic - 9/27/2018

Sept. 26--A novelty gift store in Hickory violated federal law by denying extended disability leave to one of its employees and then firing her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Spencer Gifts LLC had employed Cindy Sykes as the manager of its story in Hickory since early 2009, according to the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Statesville. In 2013, Sykes was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder of the body's connective tissue.

In December 2016, Sykes informed Spencer she required surgery on her knee because of her condition and would need to be out for approximately four to six weeks to recover, but Spencer refused to provide Sykes with the necessary leave or with any other accommodation that would allow her to keep her job, the EEOC said in a press release about the lawsuit. Spencer fired Sykes on Jan. 14, 2017, when she exhausted her short-term disability benefits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship, the press release said. The EEOC lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.

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