A federal judge ordered Walmart to pay more than $50,000 in back pay to a woman with Down syndrome after she won a disability discrimination lawsuit that came following her firing from a Walmart store in Wisconsin. The judge also ordered Walmart to immediately rehire her.
As CNBC reported, Walmart said that it would follow the judge's orders and that the woman would be rehired. Walmart confirmed that it has not decided if it will appeal the ruling on back pay, as well as a $300,000 in jury damages.
The company said in a statement, “We take supporting all our associates seriously and routinely accommodate thousands with disabilities every year.”
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requested that a closer eye be placed on the nation's largest employer, but the judge denied that request after a more than five-year court battle between the EEOC and Walmart. The agency sued Walmart representing Marlo Spaeth, who accused the retail giant of refusing to accommodate her disability, then subsequently firing her after she had worked for the company for nearly 16 years at one of its supercenter locations in Wisconsin, CNBC reported.
The judge wrote in the ruling, “The substantial verdict against Walmart and the publicity it generated serve as strong deterrents against any repeat of the conduct at issue in this case.”
The judge went on to say that the ruling would “create a strong incentive for Walmart to ensure that requests for reasonable accommodations are adequately addressed without court oversight of Walmart’s administration and enforcement of its policies and procedures.”
As CNBC reported, Spaeth said she struggled to adapt to new work hours which were changed in 2014 when the store began using a computerized scheduling system. She said she worried that she would miss dinner or would not be able to catch the bus. She said she was forced to leave for work early often. Her family repeatedly asked for her schedule to be changed. Walmart fired her after those requests according to the details of the case.
Spaeth's sister, Amy Jo Stevenson, said the ordeal was "nothing short of traumatic."