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PRESS RELEASE
8-21-12

Wal-Mart Settles EEOC Lawsuit for $50,000

Carlsbad Store Fired Long-Time Clerk, Refused Temporary Accommodation for Her Cerebral Palsy, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. will pay $50,000 in back  pay and damages in settlement of a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had charged that a Carlsbad, N.M., Walmart store unlawfully fired a part-time sales clerk because of her cerebral  palsy. 

he EEOC  had charged in its lawsuit, Case No. 2:11-CV-00834, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, that Wal-Mart fired Marcia Arney rather than attempting to return her to her job following a medical leave related to  her cerebral palsy.  When Arney, a 22-year Wal-Mart employee, showed the store manager a note from her doctor requesting an accommodation involving periodic breaks off her feet, he refused  to return her to her job, and instead demanded that she obtain a medical  release with no restrictions. The EEOC  alleges that the medical restriction could have easily been accommodated by the  giant retailer.  In fact, had the  employer inquired further, it would have learned that her need for accommodation  was temporary. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act  of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in the  workplace. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

Under the consent decree settling the suit, Wal-Mart will conduct annual live ADA training of management  officials at its Carlsbad store. It will  also post a notice on its agreement with the EEOC so that employees are aware  of procedures for reporting disability discrimination. The company has committed to not requiring  disabled workers to produce a full release from their doctor upon returning  from a medical leave. Further, the  company will engage in an interactive process with disabled employees to find a  reasonable accommodation to assist them in performing their jobs. Future charges and lawsuits alleging disability discrimination will be reported to the EEOC for the duration of the decree,  as well as requests by employees for accommodation of a disability.

“Federal regulations explaining amendments to the ADA made it clear that many impairments, cerebral palsy among  them, do not require a lengthy analysis to determine whether or not they are  'substantially limiting,' which is the standard for coverage,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office.  “Employers who used to argue otherwise should  get up to speed on the clarifications Congress made to the ADA to ensure that  most people with disabilities will be covered."

Janet V. Elizondo, director for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “We are  hopeful that our work in this case can generally serve to educate the employer community in southern New Mexico that the Dallas District stands ready to  address discrimination issues at the furthest reaches of its jurisdiction.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.