Wal-Mart will pay $40,000 and provide additional training to its managers to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to a Tulsa World news report, the lawsuit involved an employee who was born with a congenital amputation. Her right arm ends at the elbow. The woman, in March 2018, applied for a freight handler position at Wal-Mart's grocery distribution center about 30 miles north of Tulsa.
Discrimination Alleged During Hiring
The woman arrived at the facility to take the company's pre-employment test for freight handlers, known as the Physical Assessment Test. This required lifting and carrying cartons weighing up to 50 pounds. Wal-Mart representatives asked the woman twice if she needed help to complete the test. But, the employee declined telling them she lifted up to 150 pounds at the job she had at the time.
But, the hiring official insisted on contacting the company's accommodations representative to determine whether the woman should have been allowed to take the test. Ultimately, she was not allowed to take the test without an unneeded assistive device. This conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from refusing to hire applicants based on their disabilities. The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC in September 2019.
A federal judge approved a two-year consent decree awarding $40,000 in monetary damages to the job applicant. The decree also requires Wal-Mart to train its managers and human resources personnel at that particular distribution center on how to treat applicants with various disabilities during the hiring process and the proper role of reasonable accommodations as set forth by the ADA.
Wal-Mart officials said they are committed to hiring individuals with disabilities and that what happened to this particular applicant is not reflective of the company's policies. Wal-Mart's statement also mentioned that they have discontinued use of a Physical Abilities Test in their distribution centers.
What Are Your Disability Discrimination Rights?
If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot ask you if you are disabled or ask about the nature or severity of your disability. But, employers are within their rights to ask if you can perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodation. For example, if your job requires you to stand outside for long period of time or be able to lift a certain amount of weight, an employer can ask you to describe or demonstrate how you will perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodation.
Federal contractors and subcontractors who are covered by the affirmative action requirements of the Rehabilitation Act may invite individuals with disabilities to identify themselves on a job application. But, employers who request this type of information must follow certain legal requirements when it comes to the manner in which this information is requested and used. A pre-employment inquiry about a disability is also allowed if required by laws such as those that cover disabled veterans. Pre-employment inquiries about disabilities may be necessary to help employers identify applicants or clients with disabilities in order to provide them with the required special services.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability either on the job or during your job application and selection process, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. The experienced Los Angeles disability discrimination attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley are passionate advocates for employees' rights. Call us to schedule a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.