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Walmart Pays $40,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Claim

National Retailer Refused to Allow Applicant with Partial Arm to Take Pre-Employment Physical Assessment Test, Federal Agency Charged

LOUIS – Walmart Stores East, L.P. 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), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Emily Hayman was born with a congenital amputation – her right arm ends at the elbow. In March 2018, Hayman applied for a freight handler position at Walmart’s Ochelata, Okla., Grocery Distribution Center. She arrived at the facility to take Walmart’s pre-employment test for freight handlers, known as the Physical Assessment Test (PAT).  The PAT required lifting and carrying cartons weighing up to 50 lbs. Walmart representatives asked Hayman twice whether she needed assistance to complete the test.

Both times Hayman declined the offers, telling them that she lifted up to 150 lbs. at the job she had at the time. But Walmart’s hiring official insisted on contacting the company’s accommodations representative to determine if Hayman should be allowed to take the PAT. According to the EEOC, when Hayman told the representative she did not need an accommodation to complete the test, the representative told her she could not help her. Ultimately, she was not allowed to take the PAT without an unneeded assistive device.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from refusing to hire an applicant based on disability. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Walmart Stores East, L.P., No. 19-cv-524-JED-FHM), in September 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Judge John E. Dowdell approved the two-year consent decree awarding $40,000 in monetary damages to Hayman. The decree also requires Walmart to train its 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. “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.”

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

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.