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EEOC considers appeal after loss in Milwaukee disability case

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission is weighing its appeal options after a Milwaukee jury decided that a woman who could no longer lift as part of her job at a Cudahy AutoZone was not considered disabled.

The EEOC sued AutoZone in 2012, claiming the company fired a manager, Margaret Zych, in 2009 and did not accommodate her lifting restriction. The agency claimed the woman had just received a doctor’s clearance to return to work with a lifting restriction, following an injury to her shoulder two years earlier.

AutoZone contended, however, that Zych could no longer perform an essential part of her job, and that to make accommodations for her inability to lift — such as having another employee lift heavy boxes for her — would be an undue hardship on the company. The company also claimed that Zych was not considered a disabled person under the Americans with Disability Act.

And after a five-day trial, a jury unanimously found that Zych was not a disabled employee and found in favor of AutoZone. Eastern District of Wisconsin Magistrate Judge William Callahan entered judgment on the case on Nov. 24.

Jean Kamp, an attorney with the EEOC, said she was disappointed with the verdict, but pointed out that she had 60 days from the judgment to appeal. She said she and the EEOC are considering their options.

An attorney representing AutoZone, Emery Harlan of Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP, Milwaukee, declined to comment when reached Tuesday.

About Eric Heisig

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