The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced a lawsuit against Walmart alleging discrimination against a disabled worker.
The suit accuses the Bentonville-based retailer of refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a deli employee who was suffering from symptoms related to Crohn’s disease. The disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
The EEOC said the employee, who worked for a Walmart store in Charlotte, requested intermittent leave or excused disability-related absences. She also requested to be transferred to a position closer to a bathroom. Walmart allegedly excused a few of the worker’s disability-related absences, but did not excuse others, including several absences due to medical appointments and a hospitalization.
The employee, who had worked for Walmart since February 2014, was fired in April 2017 for exceeding the number of unexcused absences allowed under company policy, even though she had provided doctor’s notes.
The lawsuit alleges that Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects individuals from disability discrimination in the workplace and which, absent undue hardship, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to allow disabled employees to perform the essential functions of the job.
The EEOC said it tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement before filing suit.
In a statement, Walmart said, "We have been a top employer for those with disabilities for years and have thousands of associates who perform their jobs with reasonable accommodation, including applying for and receiving appropriate leave. We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind and take allegations like this seriously.
"We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in court as appropriate once we are served."