Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Awarded $125m in ADA Suit against Walmart
The EEOC alleged that Walmart discriminated against an employee because of her disability. Marlo Spaeth, a longtime employee of Walmart with Down syndrome, was allegedly fired by Walmart because she had to change her schedule and had an attendance problem. However, the jury found that she was fired because of her disability. The jury also found that a schedule change she requested would not impose an undue hardship on Walmart.
The trial evidence demonstrated the Spaeth had great performance reviews during her approximately 16 years at the company. The jury also found that when Spaeth applied to be rehired she was not hired because of Walmart unwillingness to accommodate her disability.
Ultimately, this jury verdict is intended to send a message to employers that discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable and companies’ will have to pay if they discriminate. It also demonstrates that, at least in some cases, flexible scheduling may be a required, reasonable accommodation under the ADA. It is important for employers to always keep these standards in mind when operating their businesses.
Walmart is challenging the amount awarded and states that under federal law the maximum amount allowed is $300,000. Walmart is also reviewing further legal options.