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Woman Says She Was Fired As Gas Station Cashier Because Thorntons Couldn't Accommodate Her PTSD

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A South Side woman says a major gas station chain fired her because they can't accommodate her disability, even though she didn't ask for any special accommodations.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas has the story, including her questionable conversations with human resources.

Shakena Jamerson suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and says her disability stems from an abusive childhood.

She's been collecting a disability check, but wants to get back to work part-time.

"I wanted to go out the house, and meet people, and conversate, and have people come in; because, you see, it's just me in the house," she said.

Jamerson applied for a job at a Thorntons gas station in South Holland. She was excited to learn they'd hire her as a cashier.

She said the company knew she was disabled when she started working last month, but didn't ask for all the details. She thought the job was going well.

"Working there, it kept me uplifted, and I liked working there," she said.

A few days into the job, a manager asked her what her disability is, and how she'd handle an unruly customer.

"I don't know if that person would trigger me, I don't know if I'll just stand there, but I know to de-escalate the situation by pulling in a manager, which is what I stated to her," Jamerson said.

A few days later, Jamerson called to find out her work schedule for the next week. She was told she was no longer working at the store. So she got in touch with corporate human resources.

"I asked her (the human resources employee) three times, 'Why are you firing me?' She said, 'Because of your disability,'" she said.

Jamerson then got in touch with another human resources employee, and this time she recorded the call.

JAMERSON: "It stands as I'm terminated."

HR: "Yes, ma'am"

JAMERSON: "Because of my disability."

HR: "Not because of your disability, but because we can't accommodate. And.."

JAMERSON: "You can't accommodate my disability?"

HR: "Right."


PTSD patients sometimes struggle with interacting with the public, but Jamerson said she learned coping skills through months of therapy, and she was ready for the job.

"I didn't ask for any accommodations, or anything. So I didn't understand," she said.

Regardless, federal law requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for disabilities, unless it would cause an "undue hardship."

A person who identified herself as a gas station manager declined to talk to CBS 2 when asked if Jamerson was fired because of her disability.

The store's corporate office said it won't comment on personnel matters.

For now, Jamerson is at home, crafting her résumé for her next move.

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