Wal-Mart recently agreed to pay a former long-term employee $90,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit after the discount retailer failed to provide adequate accommodations.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charged that Wal-Mart violated federal discrimination laws when the giant retailer terminated an intellectually disabled employee at one of its Wal-Mart stores in Illinois.
The man, who had worked at Wal-mart since 1994, required a written list of daily tasks as a workplace accommodation for his intellectual disabilities, which were diagnosed in childhood. For years, Wal-Mart provided this list and the employee was able to satisfactorily complete the tasks required of his job. However, at some point, the discount retailer decided to stop providing the list.
The employee was subsequently terminated after Wal-mart claimed that he failed to perform certain job duties. However, the EEOC charged that the employees purported failure to perform certain job duties was due to Wal-Mart no longer providing him with his daily duties list.
In addition to the $90,000, the retailer signed a two-year decree under which it must also provide additional, non-monetary relief intended to improve the Wal-Mart workplace, including training employees on disability discrimination and requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
Commenting on the case, Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago, notes that “Employers must provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations if they are necessary to enable the employee to perform his or her essential job duties. Here, a simple written list would have provided [the plaintiff] with the accommodation he needed, and he wouldn’t have been terminated.”
The bottom line? Accommodations for disabled employees needn’t be complicated, but they do need to be made and kept up with in order to remain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.