(CN) – A home improvement store chain did not discriminate against a man by firing him for peeing near shopping carts at the front of the store he worked at, a federal judge ruled.
William Powell sued Lowe’s Home Centers LLC last year, alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Powell claims he started working at the Hendersonville, Tenn. Lowe’s store in 2008 and eventually transferred from a stocker to a cashier position after developing back pain.
He was fired in November 2012 after human resources manager Jada Martin saw him urinating near the front of the store, according to the ruling.
“On the afternoon of November 15, 2012, as Martin was exiting the store, she saw plaintiff urinating just outside the public entrance in the area where customers retrieved shopping carts. In a statement, the head cashier on duty stated that plaintiff had not indicated a need to use the restroom at the time of the incident, had not requested a break for that purpose, and had never mentioned anything about having a condition that required the emergency use of a bathroom. Plaintiff admitted to, and apologized for, his public urination, explaining that he ‘was unable to retain his urine and had to urinate immediately,'” the ruling states. “Defendant decided that plaintiff’s actions created or contributed to unsanitary conditions for Lowe’s customers and employees, in violation of its code of business conduct and ethics. Because he was already working under a final notice, defendant terminated plaintiff’s employment on November 28, 2012.”
U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp granted Lowe’s summary judgment last week, holding that Powell lacks evidence that his alleged incontinence affected his ability to work when he was fired.
“The record reflects that in February 2010, plaintiff was taking medicine for incontinence, urinated in a colorant bottle in the paint department where he was working, and was placed on six months probation. The record further reflects that, in the fall of that year, plaintiff underwent prostate surgery,” Sharp wrote. “However, the record also shows that plaintiff reported to defendant in March 2010 that his doctor had changed his medication and he was ‘cured,’ and plaintiff admits that he never provided defendant with a doctor’s note which indicated that he needed extra bathroom breaks because of incontinence. Additionally, plaintiff has identified no evidence suggesting that he suffered from incontinence between the time that he urinated into the colorant bottle and when he was caught urinating on or near the shopping carts.”
The judge ruled that Powell’s claim that Lowe’s did not accommodate his incontinence fails because Lowe’s was not aware of the alleged disability and Powell did not ask for accommodation.
“While plaintiff claims that the restrooms at Lowes were in the back, about 300 feet away from the cashier stations at the front of the store, he admits that he ‘did not think to formally request extra breaks due to the now long distance to the restroom,'” Sharp wrote. “Plaintiff also admits he never provided defendant with any doctor’s notes about his need for bathroom breaks. Defendant cannot be held liable for failing to engage in an interactive process when it did not know that there was a need for that dialogue.”
Powell’s attorney, Andy Allman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.
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