Top of page

EEOC sues Walmart for disability discrimination

Walmart store

Wal-Mart Stores East, LP violated federal law when it failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee and then fired her after she made an internal ethics complaint of disability discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed on June 30.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in April 2019 an employee working for Walmart’s Hope Mills, North Carolina store as a warehouse unloader experienced the onset of severe pain due to a neuro¬logical disability that affected her right hand and wrist. Her supervisor told her to apply for medical leave through the company’s third-party administrator to avoid accruing points under the attendance policy. The employee applied for intermittent leave as a reasonable accommodation for her disability but the accommodation was denied.

Walmart then told the employee that she could not return to work unless she could provide a medical release saying that she could work without any restrictions, which was not possible due to the employee’s disability. Frustrated by Walmart’s continued refusal to allow her to return to work, the employee made a report to the company’s Global Ethics Office in late June 2019. The company fired her nine days later.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects individuals with disabilities from workplace discrimination and requires that employers provide reasonable accom¬modations for disabilities. Retaliating against an employee for complaining about discrimination also violates federal law. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No.: 5:22-cv-00252) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary concili-ation process.

The EEOC seeks monetary relief for the employee, including back pay, and com¬pensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks injunctive relief against the company to end any ongoing discrimination and to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.

“Individuals with disabilities have a right to work,” said Melinda C. Dugas, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Employer policies requiring employees to show that they are 100% healed or can otherwise work without any restrictions before returning from medical leave violates public policy and runs afoul of the ADA. Additionally, the statute prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who seek an accommodation for a disability.”

The EEOC’s Charlotte District is charged with enforcing federal employment anti-discrimination laws in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

You might also like

woman young woman in a wheelchair outdoors woman young woman in a wheelchair outdoors

Bill to help women with disabilities access reproductive health care

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee…

Deaf patient use video conference, make online consultation by sign language with doctor on tablet Deaf patient use video conference, make online consultation by sign language with doctor on tablet

HHS and DOJ issue guidance on nondiscrimination in telehealth

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and…

woman in wheelchair entering in a building woman in wheelchair entering in a building

Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill passes first reading in House

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill has passed its first…

Gavel and law books Gavel and law books

Australian Human Rights Commission legislation amendment bill 2022

The Australian Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment (Selection and Appointment)…