Walmart Guilty of ADA Violation

A jury found Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they fired a longtime employee with Down syndrome in Wisconsin after implementing a new computerized scheduling system, CNBC reported.

Aggressive scheduling systems used by major retailers are notorious. Some jurisdictions have passed laws to protect employees from anti-social schedules such as being asked to work two short split shifts in one day or schedules that don’t allow staff sufficient time to sleep and rest.

The U.S. Equal Employment Commission wants the judge to put the nation’s largest private employer on notice. In a motion, the federal agency said Walmart should be under tighter oversight for the next five years and required to make clear, in company policies that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Plus, the EEOC said, Walmart should be forced to post a sign about the lawsuit and its actions at more than 100 stores.

A draft of the memo, which the EEOC made and shared with the judge, lays out why the company was wrong to fire Marlo Spaeth, a longtime employee, and uses it as a cautionary tale about the consequences of violating the ADA.

The federal agency is asking for the memo to be posted for five years in the region where Walmart violated the ADA. A judge will ultimately decide whether or not to grant the measures.

Walmart is reviewing the filing, company spokesman Randy Hargrove said. In a previous statement, he said Walmart’s leaders and managers “take supporting all our associates seriously and for those with disabilities, we routinely accommodate thousands every year.”

Spaeth, who has Down syndrome, worked for nearly 16 years as a sales associate at a Walmart Supercenter in Manitowoc, in eastern Wisconsin. She was fired from her job after the store began using a new computerized scheduling system, which changed her hours. Managers refused to reinstate Spaeth’s longtime work schedule.

In July, Walmart lost the lawsuit, and was ordered by the jury to pay a more than $125 million verdict — one of the highest in the federal agency’s history for a single victim. The damages were reduced by the judge to $300,000, the maximum allowed under the law.

In the motion, the EEOC said Walmart should pay nearly $187,000 on top of those damages to make up for Spaeth’s years of lost wages. It asked the judge to require Walmart to reinstate Spaeth as an employee or pay the equivalent of ten years of wages in lieu of reinstatement.

The federal agency also called for the strictest oversight of Walmart — and the posted signs — in the region where Spaeth’s store is located. 

In that region, it said Walmart should require ADA training for all managers and supervisors and incorporate adherence to those policies into annual performance reviews. It also said Walmart should be forced to notify the EEOC within 90 days about any request for accommodation of an employee’s disability and to share details about that request, including the person’s name and contact information — as well as how Walmart responded.

2 replies
  1. Beth Smith
    Beth Smith says:

    Spaeth worked at Walmart for 16 years as a Sales Associate therefore should be treated with dignity and respect. For someone to have worked 16 years this tells the world that she is great with people, she is a hard worker and managers should have more respect for her. I am acknowledging that Walmart doesn’t care about their longtime employees. They never did and never will. They need to get their act together. I do know that they over work their employees and don’t pay them enough. Walmart doesn’t care if your sick , managers don’t even come to the phone to answer the phone when an employee is trying to call off. People have died because of this. And also they hire people that already have health insurance , so they don’t have to offer it to their employees. Walmart pays low wages and is known to not give raises.
    Ohh and lets not forget about a union. If an employee even tries to gather a few employees together to try to get a certain department unionized, this is not going to happen. Walmart will shut the department first before moving forward. And has closed the whole store first before giving in. What a Shame!!!!

  2. Sonam Willow
    Sonam Willow says:

    I have worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Albany, NY and was appreciative of the fact that our local Walmart location in Schenectady was very open to accommodating our individuals with disabilities including permitting job coaches on site.

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