Walmart Sued for Disability Discrimination…Again
It seems like not a week goes by that Walmart isn’t sued for some alleged labor or employment violation, including every form of employment discrimination there is along with violations of wage and hour laws as well. This may not be entirely surprising, given that Walmart is the world’s largest employer with 2,300,000 employees on the payroll as of 2022. The world’s number two employer, Amazon (1,544,000 employees in 2022), also comes up regularly in court filings alleging many forms of worker mistreatment.
That said, the company’s size is no excuse for violating workers’ rights. Whether happening in isolated incidents or caused by systemic policies, unlawful employment discrimination should never be tolerated. Federal laws like Title VII and the ADA allow employees to bring their complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the EEOC can either work to resolve the complaint with the employer and sue on the employee’s behalf or issue a letter to the employee giving them a right to sue the employer directly in federal court.
EEOC Sues Walmart for Disability Discrimination
In the latest move against the retail giant, the EEOC announced on July 29th that it had filed charges against Walmart for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act. These laws mandate that employers must provide their employees who have disabilities with reasonable accommodations that are needed to allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. This mandate includes a requirement to make exceptions to corporate policies.
In the present case, EEOC v. Walmart, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:23-cv-08118-GMS (U.S. District Court, District of Arizona), the EEOC alleges that Walmart fired a worker, Stevey Wiman, due to excessive absences. Wiman suffers from a seizure disorder that causes her to miss work. Although management at the Bullhead City, Arizona, Walmart initially excused Wiman’s absences as an accommodation for her disability under Walmart’s attendance policy, after about two months the store’s human resources department informed Wiman that her absences would not be excused any longer. Wiman requested that her absences be excused as an accommodation of her disability, per store policy, but her request was denied. Termination swiftly followed.
Wiman complained about the discrimination to the EEOC, which triggered a process that included an investigation and attempts by the agency to settle the charges through a pre-litigation conciliation process. Only after these attempts proved fruitless did the EEOC file suit. The lawsuit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages on Wiman’s behalf, along with injunctive relief that would attempt to keep Walmart from engaging in similar discriminatory practices against other workers in the future. Injunctive relief could be an order to Walmart to change its policies or train its employees and managers on proper procedures, for instance. Compensatory damages would reimburse Wiman for her loss of pay and other financial and emotional harm. Punitive damages, meanwhile, are intended to punish an employer for especially malicious or reckless discriminatory acts.
In its defense, Walmart might claim that the proposed accommodation in this case – excusing Wiman’s seizure-related absences – would pose a “direct threat” of injury to the employee or a co-worker or would put an “undue hardship” on the employer. It remains to be seen how Walmart will attempt to defend itself in this case and whether any of its arguments will prove persuasive.
According to the EEOC, employment for people with disabilities has reached an all-time high, making it especially important to be vigilant in guarding the rights of this vital segment of the workforce.
Citrus County Disability Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing employees throughout Florida, our disability discrimination attorneys in Citrus County, Florida, have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of disability discrimination victims. If you have experienced harassment in the workplace based on your real or perceived disability or have questions about your protection from disability discrimination under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our disability discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes disability discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.