PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A typist who works with his feet because his deformed arms were removed when he was born in Chernobyl claims in court that Kroger fired him because he could not push his bicycle across a courtyard, as requested, but rode it across.
Michael Trimble sued The Kroger Co. and Elwood Staffing Services in Federal Court on Feb. 10, alleging disability discrimination and retaliation.
Trimble secured a three-month temp-to-hire position in Kroger’s human resources office last year. Kroger, which operates the Fred Meyer and QFC grocery chains, praised him as one of its most proficient typists before firing him for failing to comply with its unreasonable demand that he carry his bike up a flight of stairs and walk it across an outdoor courtyard, according to the complaint.
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.
Trimble demands unspecified damages and reinstatement. He is represented by Daniel Snyder of Portland, who did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Representatives for Kroger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.