The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuits on March 23 and March 24, 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination.
According to the lawsuits, Walmart failed to provide reasonable accommodations to the former employees, one who has Crohn’s disease and the other who has epilepsy, and terminated them because of their disabilities.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent seizures that can affect consciousness, movement, and sensation.
The EEOC alleges that Walmart violated the ADA by refusing to modify the work schedules of the two workers to accommodate their medical needs, such as allowing them to take breaks, use the restroom, or take medication. The EEOC also claims that Walmart retaliated against them by issuing them disciplinary actions and ultimately firing them.
The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
“Walmart has a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities unless doing so would pose an undue hardship,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers cannot fire employees simply because they have disabilities.”
Walmart Faces Other Legal Troubles
The lawsuits are not the only legal troubles that Walmart is facing. The retailer has been sued at least 20 times a day, or about 5,000 times a year, according to Lawyer Inc. The majority of these lawsuits are filed by Walmart’s employees, complaining about wage and hour malpractices or workplace discrimination.
For example, in July 2021, a federal jury in Wisconsin awarded $125 million in punitive damages to a former Walmart employee with Down syndrome who was fired after 16 years of service for attendance and punctuality issues. The jury found that Walmart failed to accommodate her disability and violated the ADA.
However, Walmart said it would contest the verdict and that the award would be reduced by the judge to around $300,000, which is the cap on damages under the ADA for employers with more than 500 workers.
Walmart has also been sued by customers who claim they were injured or harmed by its products or services. For instance, in December 2021, an Alabama woman who was falsely arrested on a shoplifting charge at a Walmart store was awarded $2.1 million in punitive damages by a jury. The woman said she was humiliated and traumatized by the ordeal.
Walmart said it would file motions challenging the verdict and that it believed that the $2.1 million in damages exceeded the amount allowed under Alabama law.
Walmart is facing two lawsuits for alleged disability discrimination by firing two workers with medical conditions at separate stores in North Carolina. The EEOC is suing Walmart for violating the ADA and seeking monetary and injunctive relief. Walmart is also dealing with other legal troubles from its employees and customers who accuse it of various wrongdoings.
Walmart has denied any wrongdoing and said it would fight the lawsuits. The retailer has said that it respects and values its associates and customers and that it strives to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
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