March 31, 2023
The Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores East, LP for violating federal law by refusing to excuse an employee’s disability-related leave and firing him for violating the company’s attendance policy. The lawsuit alleges that the Raleigh, North Carolina store refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to a general merchandise support manager with a disability who was suffering from symptoms related to generalized convulsive epilepsy.
The Walmart Employee’s Job History
The manager was hired as a cashier in 2012 and was promoted several times over the next four years. Beginning in 2017, the manager began experiencing seizures requiring medical treatment, causing him to be late for his shift or miss work on several occasions. On each occasion, the manager told Walmart his absence was related to his disability. In July 2017, the manager requested a reasonable accommodation for his disability in the form of intermittent leave, which Walmart did not grant or excuse the disability-related absences. In 2018, Walmart demoted the manager to deli sales associate because of his disability-related absences and then fired him for violating the company’s attendance policy.
Disability Discrimination Federal Employment Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals from disability discrimination in the workplace and requires employers, absent undue hardship, to provide reasonable accommodations to allow disabled employees to perform the essential functions of the job. The alleged conduct of Walmart violates the ADA, and the EEOC seeks monetary relief for the former employee, including back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks injunctive relief against the company to end any ongoing discrimination and prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
This case highlights the importance of providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Absent undue hardship, intermittent leave can be an effective reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Employees with disabilities should be able to seek medical treatment without fear of losing their jobs. Employers have a responsibility to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that employees with disabilities can perform their essential job functions.
It is also important for employers to communicate with employees with disabilities about their needs and work together to find reasonable accommodations that meet those needs. Employers should train their supervisors and managers on the requirements of the ADA and establish policies and procedures that comply with the law.
The EEOC’s lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores East, LP for disability discrimination highlights the importance of providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their policies and procedures comply with the ADA and to work with employees with disabilities to find reasonable accommodations that meet their needs. Employers should be held accountable for violating the ADA to protect the rights of employees with disabilities in the workplace.
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