December 10, 2019

December 10, 2019

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December 09, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Walmart to Pay $80,000 and Implement Nationwide Change in Policy to Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit

Giant Retailer  Refused to Accommodate Disabled Employee with Reassignment to a Nearby  Store, Federal Agency Charged

BANGOR, Maine - Walmart  Inc. will pay $80,000 and implement nationwide changes to its disability reassignment policy to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Walmart violated federal law by failing to reassign a long- term employee at its Augusta, Maine location to vacant positions in its  Waterville or Thomaston, Maine locations after she became disabled.  The lawsuit alleged that Veronica Resendez, who had worked for Walmart since 1999, developed a disability that, according to Walmart,  prevented her from continuing to work in a sales associate position in Augusta. Walmart determined that the only positions that could accommodate her disability were fitting room associate and people greeter. While there were no such positions vacant in Augusta, there were two fitting room associate positions open in Waterville and one  in Thomaston. Walmart's policy, however, was to search for open positions only in the store where the employee had been working.  Because of this, Walmart did not transfer Ms. Resendez to the positions in  Waterville or Thomaston, which she would have happily accepted. As a result, Ms. Resendez never worked for Walmart again.

The  Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability and imposes a  requirement that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship on the employer. The ADA states that one of these accommodations is reassignment to a vacant position.

The  EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00170-JDL) in U.S. District  Court for the District of Maine in Bangor after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As  part of the settlement, which was approved  by the Court yesterday, Walmart will change its policy so associates with a disability that are eligible  for job reassignment under the ADA as a reasonable accommodation can request that Walmart search at up to five stores beyond  an associate's then-current store location  ("home store") or in the home store's entire market.  The revised procedures will be applied to all hourly field associates working in Walmart retail stores in the United States.

Walmart is also enjoined from failing to offer to reassign a qualified individual with a disability to a vacant position. Finally, Ms. Resendez will receive payment of $80,000.

"Federal law requires employers to reassign employees with a disability to vacant positions as the reasonable accommodation of last resort," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office.  "We are very pleased  that this lawsuit, which  arose from a single employee's complaint, resulted  in the nationwide change we sought, and we applaud  Walmart for making that change."

EEOC New York District  Director Kevin Berry added,  "Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation required by law absent undue hardship. This case demonstrates that looking beyond the home store  for a vacant position  is not an undue hardship."

The  EEOC's New York District  Office oversees New York,  Northern New Jersey,  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode  Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The  EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Source: https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-15-19.cfm

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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