Why, after so many lawsuits, does the popular retail store, Wal-Mart, continue to lose discrimination lawsuits? I don't know for sure, but seems their training program is not effective, and hiring managers aren't exploring accommodations to keep employees working. Instead, time is spent on whether the employee actually has a disability.
Wal-Mart lost the EEOC lawsuit filed in October of 2010, for once again, failing to reasonably accommodate an employee who had cancer surgery, rendering the man with a weakness in his right shoulder. The employee had worked at the company’s East Tennessee distribution center for 12 years. Following his surgery, he worked as a forklift driver. He submitted a request and asked that it not be a requirement for the man to cover a 20-minute break in the shipping department, as it would entail manual lifting. The request was denied, and the man’s employment was subsequently terminated. The company claimed the firing was due to the employee being unable to perform functions deemed essential for the job. The lawsuit also alleged retaliation, claiming that the man was fired for complaining of the company’s refusal to accommodate his condition.
As you well know, any company that denies reasonable accommodation or retaliates against a disabled employee violates the employment requirements of the Title I of the ADA. Cancer is clearly a protected condition under the ADAAA. And, his request didn't rise to the level of undue hardship for Wal-Mart. This failure to "reasonably accommodate" will cost Wal-Mart $275K, among other non- monetary relief. When EEOC steps in, a company will be told exactly what needs to be done.
Remember: Developing policies & procedures is only part of the picture; making sure all personnel consistently follow company policies & procedures is just as important, especially when addressing disability-related employee concerns. If you haven't done so already, Springboard can help your company develop procedures to properly handle requests for accommodation as well as provide disability awareness for your company.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.