Lawsuit Alleges Costco Managers, Employees Taunted Greeter With Tourette’s

A new federal lawsuit filed today claims that Costco and the managers of a Long Island store violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York State Human Rights laws by allegedly allowing managers and staff to taunt a fellow employee about his Tourette’s Syndrome, to the point where the man had to be hospitalized.

The New York Post reports the 38-year-old man, who has worked as a greeter at the store since he was 19, filed the lawsuit this week in a U.S. District Court, claiming that he was subjected to a hostile environment because of his disability.

According to the lawsuit, when new management took over at the Costco store in 2103, they disregarded the company’s Code of Ethics and systematically targeted, discriminated against and physically endangered the man.

“Appallingly, instead of ‘taking care’ of [the plaintiff], Costco subjected him to the same discrimination and stigmatism he has fought against his entire life,” the suit states. “For nearly the past two years, [the plaintiff] has endured unabated harassment, scrutiny, and ridicule so severe that it sent Plaintiff’s disabilities into a tailspin, and resulted in [the man’s] most recent hospitalization.”

The man alleges that when the new managers were hired, they immediately made it known that they did not like the man.

At times one manager allegedly told the employee, “I cringe every time I walk by you.”

The man claims in the lawsuit that the managers refused to allow him to take required medication and “maliciously stood by as Costco employees verbally assaulted [the man] with tasteless comments such as ‘hut-hut-hike,’ a jibe meant to mock the man’s uncontrollable grunts.”

In addition to being taunted by managers and employees, the man claims he was reprimanded for complimenting customers and was transferred from his position as a greeter to a cashier’s assistant position.

Managers told the man they believed the new position would keep the man so busy that he would not be able to interact with customers.

“Clearly, Defendant shamefully wished to hide Plaintiff away from its patrons on the basis of Plaintiff’s disabilities and their attendant symptoms,” the suit states.

According to the lawsuit, the man attempted to bring the issues to the attention of Costco’s CEO, but the efforts made no difference.

The issues culminated one day in November, when according to the lawsuit, the man hit his breaking point and suffered a debilitating panic attack while at work. He had to be taken from work in an ambulance, and is currently on leave for work-related stress.

“This episode was directly spurred on by the increased stress and anxiety [the plaintiff] experienced as a result of his maltreatment at Costco,” the suit states. “To date, the Plaintiff continues to recover from his attack.”

The man is seeking compensatory, emotional, psychological and punitive damages, lost compensation, front and back pay, injunctive relief and other damages for the alleged treatment and violations.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.