Wal-Mart: Former employee who complained to EEOC never requested accommodation

By Jessica Karmasek | Aug 25, 2016

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - Retail giant Wal-Mart contends a former, long-term employee who alleged disability discrimination by the company never requested an accommodation.

The Arkansas-based chain told Legal Newsline that William Clark, an intellectually disabled employee who worked for the company since 1994, did not ask for a reasonable adjustment to his job or work environment.

“His repeated instances of improperly handling food product led to his termination under our progressive discipline policy,” according to the Wal-Mart statement.

The company said it does not condone or tolerate discrimination of any type, noting that it has “thousands” of associates who regularly perform their jobs with “reasonable accommodations” it has provided.

“While we deny that discrimination in any way played a part in Mr. Clark’s termination, we are glad we resolved the matter,” it said.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently announced that Wal-Mart will pay Clark $90,000 to settle the allegations of disability discrimination.

According to the commission’s news release, to reasonably accommodate his disabilities, Clark needed a written list of daily tasks.

The EEOC said Wal-Mart provided this list for a period of time but eventually stopped.

While the company allegedly fired Clark because he was not performing his job duties, the commission said he could not do so because Wal-Mart failed to provide the accommodation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The ADA provides the same standard of protection to employees with intellectual disabilities and to workers with physical disabilities,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago. “Employers must provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations if they are necessary to enable the employee to perform his or her essential job duties.

“Here a simple written list would have provided Mr. Clark with the accommodation he needed, and he wouldn’t have been terminated.”

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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