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Walmart Should Be Under Tighter Oversight Due To Dismissal Of Employee With Down Syndrome, EEOC Says

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Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey. Walmart saw profits jump in the last quarter as e-commerce sales increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

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A jury found Walmart broke the law by firing a longtime employee with Down syndrome. Now the US Commission for Employment Equality wants the judge to warn the country’s largest private employer to prevent this from happening again.

In a motion filed Friday, the federal agency said Walmart should be placed under stricter scrutiny over the next five years and required to make clear in company policies that employees with disabilities are entitled to accommodations. reasonable.

Additionally, the EEOC said, Walmart should be required to display a sign regarding the lawsuit and its actions in more than 100 stores. A draft of the memo, which the EEOC wrote and shared with the judge, explains why the company was wrong to fire longtime employee Marlo Spaeth – and uses it as a warning about the consequences of the violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The federal agency is asking that the memo be posted for five years in the region where Walmart violated the ADA.

A judge will ultimately decide whether or not to grant the injunction measures.

Walmart is reviewing the case, company spokesman Randy Hargrove said.

In a previous statement, he said executives and managers at Walmart “take the support of all of our associates seriously and for people with disabilities, we regularly welcome thousands of people every year.”

Marlo Spaeth (left) was fired from Walmart in July 2015, after working there for almost 16 years. His sister, Amy Jo Stevenson, has since been engaged in a legal battle with the retail giant. She filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Amy Jo Stevenson

The EEOC and Walmart have been engaged in a legal battle for years over Spaeth’s dismissal. Spaeth, who has Down syndrome, worked for almost 16 years as a sales associate at a Walmart Supercenter in Manitowoc, a small town in eastern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. She was fired from her job after the store started using a new computerized scheduling system, which changed her hours. Managers refused to reinstate Spaeth’s long-standing work schedule.

In July, Walmart lost the lawsuit and was ordered by the jury to pay a verdict of more than $ 125 million – one of the highest in federal agency history for a single victim. The damages were reduced by the judge to $ 300,000, the maximum allowed by law.

In Friday’s motion, the EEOC said Walmart would have to pay nearly $ 187,000 on top of that damage to make up for Spaeth’s years of lost wages. He asked the judge to demand that Walmart reinstate Spaeth as an employee or pay the equivalent of ten years’ salary instead of his reinstatement.

Yet the federal agency has also argued that pecuniary damages are not enough. He called for the strictest Walmart surveillance – and posted signs – in the area where the Spaeth store is located. The region has more than a hundred stores, according to one of the EEOC documents, but it did not specify which states and cities it covers beyond that part of Wisconsin.

In that region, he said Walmart should require ADA training for all managers and supervisors and incorporate adherence to those policies into annual performance reviews. He also said Walmart should be required to notify the EEOC within 90 days of any request to accommodate an employee’s disability and share the details of that request, including the person’s name and contact information. – as well as how Walmart responded.

The EEOC motion echoes the wishes of Spaeth’s sister, Amy Jo Stevenson.

In an interview with CNBC in July, she said her sister was broken when she lost her job. Stevenson said she wanted all Walmart employees and managers to know what happened to her sister – and understand their rights and requirements under the ADA.

“I imagine a memo from Marlo Spaeth hanging in every Walmart that says, ‘You can’t do that,’” Stevenson said.


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