Walmart Socked $5.2 Million for Disability Discrimination

Late yesterday, a jury determined that Walmart hS violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the disabilities of a longtime employee, and awarded $5.2 million in damages, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

walmart-to-raise-minimum-wage-to-$11-an-hourAccording to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee, who has a developmental disability and is deaf and visually impaired, worked as a cart pusher in the Beloit, Wis., Walmart for 16 years before a new manager started at the store. In his first month, the new store manager suspended the employee and forced him to resubmit medical paperwork in order to keep his reasonable accommodations.

Prior to the suspension, the employee performed his job with the accommodation of assistance from a job coach provided by public funding. The employee’s conditions had not changed, the EEOC said.

When the employee and his legal guardian submitted new medical paperwork, requesting the continued accommodation of assistance from a job coach, the store cut off communication and effectively terminated him, the EEOC charged.

After a 3½-day trial, the jury found in favor of the EEOC and awarded the employee $200,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages.

“Employers have a legal obligation under federal law to work with employees who need accom­modations for disabilities,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District. “When companies shirk that obligation, the EEOC will fight to uphold the rights of disability discrimin­ation victims. In this case the jury sent a strong message to Walmart and to other employers that if they fail to live up to their obligations under the law, they will be penalized.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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