Wal-Mart sued for disability discrimination
Americas, March 20 2014
DALLAS: Wal-Mart Stores of Texas, LLC discriminated against a store manager by subjecting him to harassment, unequal treatment and discharge because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in federal court. The EEOC’s suit also alleges that Wal-Mart violated federal anti-discrimination law when it refused the manager’s request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability.
The EEOC charges in its suit that David Moorman, the manager of a Keller, Texas Walmart store, who was 54 at the time, was ridiculed with frequent taunts from his direct supervisor including “old man” and the “old food guy.” The supervisor also derided Moorman with ageist comments such as, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The EEOC further alleges that, after enduring the abusive behavior for several months, Moorman reported the harassment to Wal-Mart’s human resources department. The EEOC contends that not only did Wal-Mart fail to take any corrective action, but the harassment, in fact, increased, and the store ultimately fired Moorman because of his age.
The suit also alleges that Wal-Mart unlawfully refused Moorman’s request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Following his diagnosis and on the advice of his doctor, Moorman, a diabetic, requested reassignment to a store co-manager or assistant manager position. Wal-Mart refused to consider his request for reassignment, eventually rejecting his request without any dialogue or consideration.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age 40 or older, including age-based harassment. It also violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit, Case No. 3:14-CV-00908-M, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and correct age and disability discrimination. The suit also seeks damages for Moorman, including lost wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages for Wal-Mart’s willful conduct. The EEOC will also seek damages for harms suffered as a result of the non-accommodation.
“Employers should be diligent about preventing and correcting conduct that can amount to bullying at the workplace,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. “They have an obligation to stop ageist harassment after it is reported. The company’s failure to take remedial action to stop the harassment, as well as the denial of a reasonable accommodation for a disability, and the ultimate termination of the discrimination victim demonstrate a disregard for equal opportunity laws. The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Mr. Moorman.”
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “The open mockery and insulting of experienced employees who have committed themselves to work for a company are totally unacceptable. It’s unfortunate when supervisors and managers lose sight of the importance of valuing employees. But we are hopeful that a constructive resolution which promotes the common goal of achieving a respectful work environment will emerge from this process.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.