- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission asked a Wisconsin district court to require Walmart to modify its policies to make clear that indefinite, long-term or permanent disability accommodations are available to employees, absent undue hardship.
- The motion follows a jury order handed down in July that awarded $125 million to a former Walmart employee with Down syndrome, on whose behalf the EEOC sued, alleging disability discrimination. In its motion, the agency also asked the court to require Walmart reinstate the employee or give her 10 years’ front pay.
- EEOC asked the court to require Walmart to inform all employees of the outcome of its lawsuit and include a message informing employees "of their right to contact the EEOC without fear of retaliation." The agency also moved for the court to require Walmart to notify EEOC whenever an employee requests a disability accommodation and to provide training for managers and supervisors about scheduling accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The employee represented by EEOC in this case requested Walmart adjust her start and end times after the store changed her work schedule in 2014; her condition required her to adhere to a rigid schedule of activities. The store did not modify her schedule, and the employee was disciplined and ultimately fired in 2015, according to court documents.
EEOC alleged that these actions were in violation of the ADA. The jury appeared to agree: it held that the store failed to accommodate her, even though an accommodation would have posed no undue hardship.
The agency’s allegation that Walmart refused to make an accommodation where it was required is not unique.
Last year, the agency sued the store saying it discriminated against a qualified deaf applicant when it failed to make good on the applicant’s request for a sign language interpreter.
In 2019, a jury awarded a Walmart cart pusher $5.2 million after the agency sued, saying the store engaged in disability discrimination. A court later shrunk the award, but the jury’s verdict remained. The employee had worked for Walmart for 16 years when a new manager took over the store and demanded the worker resubmit medical paperwork to keep his accommodation, which allowed him to work with a public-funded job coach. The worker completed the request, but the store effectively fired him, EEOC said.
The ADA, enforced by the EEOC, generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities. These accommodations can range from schedule changes to equipment modification.