Target Corp. issued a response Wednesday to a lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleges he was discriminated against because he had a brain injury and fired in 2019 due to complaints about the way his supervisor treated him, saying the plaintiff’s accusations are being investigated.
Nathan Juarez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges disability discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“At Target, we prohibit discrimination and harassment and have a longstanding commitment to creating inclusive working environments,” according to the retail store chain’s response to the suit. “We’re aware of the lawsuit and looking into the situation, but haven’t been served yet.”
Juarez was hired in September 2019 as a food and beverage employee at the Target store in Norwalk. He says he informed Target while interviewing about a traumatic brain injury he suffered years earlier.
Shortly after being hired, Juarez started facing discrimination from his supervisor, who constantly berated him because he was not working fast enough and constantly compared him unfavorably to others with more experience, the suit alleges. The boss, in order to humiliate Juarez, often told him in the presence of other employees that his slow speed was grounds for firing him, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff alleges no one tried to counsel him on how he could work faster or tried to find a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Target also failed to properly train Juarez on what would be expected from him, the suit alleges.
Juarez says he eventually complained to a manager about his alleged mistreatment, but no action was taken to his knowledge. Instead, he was told he was a seasonal employee who could be fired at any time if he did not “pick up the pace,” even though his position was not identified as such in his employment application, according to his lawsuit.
“This shows that Target had no interest in addressing plaintiff’s complaints of discrimination and harassment, but rather, would (and did) retaliate against plaintiff by terminating his employment, among other adverse employment actions,” the suit alleges.
After reporting the alleged discriminatory treatment, Juarez on his next shift was falsely accused of losing an item, an accusation he was able to later disprove, the suit states.
But the alleged mistreatment continued and his boss berated him once again for not working fast enough last November, according to his court papers. When Juarez reminded his boss he is disabled and showed the scar on the side of his head, the supervisor nonetheless continued to criticize his work pace and threatened to discipline him, the suit alleges.
That same month, Juarez was fired and was told it was due to being “full of excuses of why you are a slow performer when completing your tasks,” the suit alleges.