In August, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. settled a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a former sales clerk in Carlsbad, N.M., who suffers from cerebral palsy. According to an EEOC press release, the retail giant will pay $50,000 in back pay and damages to 22-year-old Marcia Arney for allegedly refusing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation and unlawfully firing her.
According to the lawsuit, Arney, who had been on medical leave, gave her manager a doctor’s note requesting to take periodic breaks from standing on her feet. Instead of allowing Arney to return to work and providing her with the requested accommodation, her manager demanded that she obtain a medical release with no restrictions. The EEOC believes Wal-Mart could have easily accommodated Arney, especially considering the accommodation would have only been temporary.
Failing to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and is a form of disability discrimination. Discriminating against an employee or applicant because of an actual or perceived disability is illegal. Victims of this type of workplace discrimination may be entitled to compensation under state or federal law and should contact an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney to learn about their legal rights.
According to the EEOC press release, Wal-Mart has agreed to “conduct annual live ADA training of management officials at its Carlsbad store” and “has committed to not requiring disabled workers to produce a full release from their doctor upon returning from a medical leave.” The company will also post a notice of the lawsuit agreement in order to ensure employees know how to report disability discrimination.
It is important to note that an employee must request a reasonable accommodation, as Arney did in this particular case. Examples of reasonable accommodations might include:
- Adjusting work hours or schedules
- Modifying job tasks
- Reassigning job duties
- Providing specialized equipment
- Modifying existing equipment
- Providing readers or interpreters
- Making facilities accessible
When an employee makes an accommodation request, the employer may offer an alternative. If you and your employer cannot agree on a reasonable accommodation, or if you have been wrongfully terminated because of a disability, you may have grounds for a workplace discrimination lawsuit. To learn more about your legal rights, contact a knowledgeable Los Angeles employment lawyer today.