Wal-Mart to Pay $75,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit

EEOC Wal-mart disability discriminationCHICAGO – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay a former employee $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

EEOC’s lawsuit charged Wal-Mart with violating federal discrimination law when the giant retailer failed to accommodate Nancy Stack, a cancer survivor with physical limitations, and subjected her to harassment based on her disability. Stack worked at a Walmart store in Hodgkins, Ill.

As a workplace accommodation, Stack needed a chair and a modified schedule. EEOC alleged that while the store provided Stack with a modified schedule for a period of time, it revoked the accommodation for no stated reason. Further, according to EEOC, the store did not ensure that a chair was in Stack’s work area, telling her that she had to haul a chair from the furniture department to her work area, a task that was difficult, given her disability. Making matters even worse, EEOC alleged that a co-worker harassed Stack by calling her “cripple” and “chemo brain.”

Wal-Mart’s alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which can include denying reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and subjecting them to a hostile work environment. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Civil Action No. 15-cv-5796.)

Wal-Mart will pay $75,000 in monetary relief to Stack as part of a consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman on Dec. 6th. The two-year decree also provides additional, non-monetary relief intended to improve the Hodgkins store’s workplace. Under the decree, the store will train employees on disability discrimination and requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA. The Walmart store will also monitor requests for accommodation and complaints of disability discrimination and report those to EEOC.

“Wal-Mart refused to provide simple, effective and inexpensive accommodations in the form of a chair and modified schedule and failed to protect Stack from mocking because she had cancer,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney of EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Both the failure to provide accommodations and to stop the harassment violated federal law, and we are pleased with today’s settlement. Ms. Stack will receive monetary recompense from Wal-Mart, and the company will be required to educate its workforce on employees’ rights and on its own obligations under the law.”

You can review this press release in its entirety on the EEOC website here.

EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

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EEOC Sues Wal-Mart for Disability Discrimination And Harassment: Agency Says Retailer Denied Accommodations to Disabled Cancer Survivor

Agency Says Retailer Denied Accommodations to and Harassed a Disabled Cancer Survivor

CHICAGO – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. violated federal law by failing to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee at its Hodgkins, Ill., store who was disabled by bone cancer and failing to stop harassment of the employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, who managed EEOC’s pre-suit administrative investigation, the Walmart store initially agreed to comply with employee Nancy Stack’s request that the company provide a chair in her work area in the fitting room and limit her scheduled work hours because treatment for bone cancer in her leg limited her ability to walk and stand. After complying with her scheduling accommodation for many months, the store revoked it for no reason. And the store did not ensure that a chair was in Stack’s work area, at one point telling her that she had to haul a chair from the furniture department every day, which was of course hard for her to do given her disability. Finally, the store transferred Stack from the fitting room to a greeter position, which did not comply with her restrictions on standing.

To add insult to injury, Bowman added, a co-worker harassed Stack by calling her names like “cripple” and “chemo brain,” imitated her limp, and removed or hid the chair the employee needed in her work area. Stack complained repeatedly, but the store took no action to stop the co-worker’s harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which can include denying reasonable accommodations to disabled employees and subjecting disabled employees to a hostile work environment.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 15-5796, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman. The government’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Ann Henry and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

“It’s hard to believe a retailer the size of Wal-Mart could not manage to consistently provide such a simple accommodation as a chair,” said John Hendrickson, the regional attorney for EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Telling a disabled employee that she needs to drag a chair across the store every day is no accommodation at all. Employers have to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would be an undue hardship. EEOC is aware of no hardship that required Wal-Mart to suddenly change Stack’s schedule, deny her the use of a chair, and transfer her out of the fitting room where she had performed her job well for years.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Ann Henry commented, “No employee should have to go to work and face mocking and name calling because she had cancer. Employers who know about such vile harassment in their workplace have an obligation to stop it. Wal-Mart did not do that here, and the EEOC will seek to hold the company liable for that violation.

In July 2014, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart alleging that it violated the ADA by firing an intellectually disabled employee at a Rockford Walmart store after it rescinded his workplace accommodation.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

This press release originally appeared in the EEOC Newsroom. 

Wal-Mart to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Age and Disability Discrimination Suit

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Keller Store Manager Was Harassed and Fired Because of His Age and Denied Accommodation for His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged

Wal-Mart Stores of Texas, L.L.C. (Wal-Mart) has agreed to pay $150,000 and provide other significant relief to settle an age and disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its suit that Wal-Mart discriminated against the manager of the Keller, Texas Walmart store by subjecting him to harassment, discriminatory treatment, and discharge because of his age. The EEOC also charged that Wal-Mart refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for the man’s disability as federal law requires.

According to the EEOC’s suit, David Moorman was ridiculed with frequent taunts from his direct supervisor, including “old man” and “old food guy.” The EEOC further alleged that Wal-Mart ultimately fired Moorman because of his age. Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age 40 or older, including age-based harassment.

The EEOC’s suit also alleged that Wal-Mart unlawfully refused Moorman’s request for a reasonable accommodation for his diabetes. Following his diagnosis and on the advice of his doctor, Moorman requested reassignment to a store co-manager or assistant manager position. According to the suit, Wal-Mart refused to engage in the interactive process of discussing Moorman’s requested accommodation, eventually rejecting his request. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wal-Mart had an obligation to reasonably accommodate Moorman’s disability.

The EEOC filed suit on March 12, 2014, (Case No. 3:14-cv-00908 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Mr. Moorman was subjected to taunts and bullying from his supervisor that made his working conditions intolerable,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. “The EEOC remains committed to prosecuting the rights of workers through litigation in federal court.”

Under the terms of the two-year consent decree settling the case, Wal-Mart will pay $150,000 in relief to Moorman. In addition, Wal-Mart agreed to provide training for employees on the ADA and the ADEA. The training will include an instruction on the kind of conduct that may constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment, as well as an instruction on Wal-Mart’s procedures for handling requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA. Wal-Mart will also report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the consent decree and post a notice to employees about the settlement.

“The EEOC is pleased that Wal-Mart recognized the value of resolving this case without any further court action,” said EEOC Dallas District Director Janet Elizondo.

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EEOC Sues Wal-Mart for Disability Discrimination – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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Retailer Rescinded Accommodation, Then Fired Intellectually Disabled Employee, Federal Agency Charges

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit here yesterday against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., alleging that the giant retailer fired an intellectually disabled employee at a Rockford Walmart store after it rescinded his workplace accommodation.

“What our investigation indicated,” said John Rowe, the EEOC district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation, “is that Wal-Mart rescinded a long-standing practice of giving written job assignments to the employee, William Clark. That accommodation had been the key to permitting Clark to successfully perform his job during an 18 year career at Wal-Mart and to his meeting the company’s performance expectations. We determined that shortly after rescinding the accommodation, Wal-Mart began disciplining Mr. Clark for supposed performance issues, and that ultimately lead to his termination.”

The Wal-Mart where Clark was working at the time of his termination is located at 7219 Walton in Rockford, on the south side of the East State Street commercial corridor and between Interstate 90 and South Perryville Road.

The EEOC brought the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-cv-50145) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division on July 1, 2014. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard.

John Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said, “The EEOC’s position in this case is that Wal-Mart just took away — with no good reason — an effective workplace accommodation of an intellectually disabled employee. That reversal fatally compromised the employee’s ability to continue doing a job he had done so well for many, many years, and ended up with him being fired.”

Hendrickson added, “It’s hard to fathom what drove Wal-Mart to this course of action, but the EEOC response will definitely not be a mystery. We intend to show that the company’s action was a particularly senseless violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act — an especially hurtful injustice — that Mr. Clark is entitled to full make whole relief and to punitive damages, and that the public interest requires strong injunctive measures to correct Wal-Mart’s practices.”

In March of this year, Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. agreed to pay $363,419 to settle an EEOC sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. According to that suit, Wal-Mart violated federal law by allowing a co-worker to sexually harass an intellectually disabled employee at an Akron, Ohio Walmart store.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

 

EEOC Sues Wal-Mart for Age and Disability Discrimination – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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Keller Store Manager Harassed and Then Fired Because of His Age; Also Denied a Reasonable Accommodation for His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charges

Wal-Mart Stores of Texas, LLC discriminated against a store manager by subjecting him to harassment, unequal treatment and discharge because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in federal court today. The EEOC’s suit also alleges that Wal-Mart violated federal anti-discrimination law when it refused the manager’s request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability.

The EEOC charges in its suit that David Moorman, the manager of a Keller, Texas Walmart store, who was 54 at the time, was ridiculed with frequent taunts from his direct supervisor including “old man” and the “old food guy.” The supervisor also derided Moorman with ageist comments such as, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The EEOC further alleges that, after enduring the abusive behavior for several months, Moorman reported the harassment to Wal-Mart’s human resources department. The EEOC contends that not only did Wal-Mart fail to take any corrective action, but the harassment, in fact, increased, and the store ultimately fired Moorman because of his age.

The suit also alleges that Wal-Mart unlawfully refused Moorman’s request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Following his diagnosis and on the advice of his doctor, Moorman, a diabetic, requested reassignment to a store co-manager or assistant manager position. Wal-Mart refused to consider his request for reassignment, eventually rejecting his request without any dialogue or consideration.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age 40 or older, including age-based harassment. It also violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit, Case No. 3:14-CV-00908-M, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and correct age and disability discrimination. The suit also seeks damages for Moorman, including lost wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages for Wal-Mart’s willful conduct. The EEOC will also seek damages for harms suffered as a result of the non-accommodation.

“Employers should be diligent about preventing and correcting conduct that can amount to bullying at the workplace,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. “They have an obligation to stop ageist harassment after it is reported. The company’s failure to take remedial action to stop the harassment, as well as the denial of a reasonable accommodation for a disability, and the ultimate termination of the discrimination victim demonstrate a disregard for equal opportunity laws. The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Mr. Moorman.”

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “The open mockery and insulting of experienced employees who have committed themselves to work for a company are totally unacceptable. It’s unfortunate when supervisors and managers lose sight of the importance of valuing employees. But we are hopeful that a constructive resolution which promotes the common goal of achieving a respectful work environment will emerge from this process.”

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