The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Walmart for disability discrimination and harassment, saying that the retailer failed to provide reasonable accommodations to a cancer survivor.
The employee worked at a Walmart store in Illinois and had been disabled by bone cancer. According to the EEOC, the Walmart store initially agreed to allow the employee to have a chair in the fitting room, where she worked. It also agreed to limit her work hours because of her limited ability to walk and stand. However, after complying for months, the store suddenly revoked its compliance.
Instead, Walmart made the employee, Nancy Stack, drag a chair from the furniture department every day and later transferred her from the fitting room to a greeter position, which did not meet her restrictions on standing.
Also, other employees harassed Stack by calling her names like “cripple” and “chemo brain,” and they mocked her limp and hid her chair. Stack repeatedly complained but the store did nothing to help her.
Stack has alleged that Walmart’s actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination and retaliation on the basis of disability. Under the ADA, an employer with 15 or more employees must make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is either an applicant or employee (unless such an accommodation would pose an “undue hardship”).
In Stack’s case, the EEOC attorneys say the chair was a reasonable request.
“Telling a disabled employee that she needs to drag a chair across the store every day is no accommodation at all. Employers have to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would be an undue hardship. EEOC is aware of no hardship that required Wal-Mart to suddenly change Stack’s schedule, deny her the use of a chair, and transfer her out of the fitting room where she had performed her job well for years.”
Check out more information on the ADA and disability discrimination here.