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Walmart pays $40,000 in disability discrimination claim

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 11:11 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (WIBW) - The retail giant Walmart is paying out $40,000 in a disability discrimination claim.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says in a release Walmart Stores East, L.P. will pay $40,000 and provide additional training to managers to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit.

According to the EEOC, Emily Hayman was born with a congenital amputation, ending her right arm at her elbow. It said in March of 2018, Hayman applied for a freight handler position at Walmart’s Ochelata, Okla., Grocery Distribution Center. It said she arrived at the facility for the pre-employment test for freight handlers, known as the Physical Assessment TEst. It said the PAT required lifting and carrying cartons weighing up to 50 pounds. It said representatives asked Hayman twice whether she need help to finish the test.

The EEOC said both times Hayman declined the offers, telling them she lifted up to 150 pounds at the job she had at the time. It said, however, Walmart’s hiring official insisted on contacting the company’s accommodations representative to see if Hayman should be allowed to take the PAT. It said Hayman told the representative she did not need an accommodation to complete the test and the representative told her she could not help her. Ultimately, it said Walmart would not allow Hayman to take the PAT without an unneeded assistive device.

According to the EEOC, such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibiting employers from refusing to hire an applicant based on disability. It said it filed the lawsuit in September of 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma after trying to reach a prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC said Judge John E. Dowdell approved the two-year consent decree awarding $40,000 in monetary damages to Hayman. It said the decree also requires Walmart to train managers and human resources personnel at the Ochelata Distribution Center on how to treat applicants with obvious disabilities during the hiring process and the appropriate role of reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

“Workers with disabilities are in the best position to determine their own capabilities,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, in the release. “If an employer is concerned about whether a disabled worker can perform an essential job function or complete a pre-employment test, it should offer the worker a reasonable accommodation, but not require the worker to use an accom­modation that is un­necessary.”

“Central to the EEOC’s mission is ensuring that disabled workers have equal employment opportunities without unlawful barriers," added the EEOC’s St. Louis District director, L. Jack Vasquez, Jr. "Unnecessary ‘accommodations’ hinder, rather than help, disabled workers’ employment opportunities.”

The EEOC said it is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. It said the St. Louis District Office handles Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and part of southern Illinois.

For more information on the EEOC, click here.

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