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Jury awarded $ 125 million after Wal-Mart fired a woman with Down Syndrome – News


Marlo Spaeth began working as a salesperson at Wal-Mart in Manitowock, Wisconsin in 1999, folding towels, cleaning aisles, handling returns, and greeting customers, lawyers said. Over the next 15 years, she received several salary increases and positive performance evaluations.

One manager wrote that she was “very kind to the customer” and “very hardworking.” Another manager wrote, “Maro is a very friendly person and I’m happy to work here.”

However, in November 2014, Wal-Mart introduced a computerized scheduling system designed to ensure that enough people work when the store is the busiest, based on customer traffic. Business hours suddenly changed.

According to lawyers, Space was expected to work from 1 pm to 5:30 pm instead of the previous schedule from noon to 4 pm.

Her lawyer said the sudden change represented serious difficulties for Mr. Space, who suffers from Down Syndrome and is thriving in her daily life. According to the lawyer, Space repeatedly told the manager that he wanted to revert to his previous schedule.

According to court records, her sister and guardian Amy Joe Stevenson said she had told Wal-Mart’s manager. “I’m worried she might miss dinner. It’s angry with her. She gets too hot. She feels sick and can’t cope with it, so she needs to get it back for her. Say there is. “

However, her lawyer said the company refused to bring Mr. Space back to his previous schedule at a store that is open 24 hours a day and has more than 300 employees. Wal-Mart subsequently took two disciplinary actions against Mr. Spaces for absenteeism and lateness, her lawyer said.

On July 10, 2015, Wal-Mart fired Spice for excessive absenteeism.

Wal-Mart’s training coordinator took Mr. Space’s best and took her out of the store where she worked for about 16 years. The training coordinator later testified that both she and Mr. Space were crying, and that Mr. Space did not understand what was happening, court records show.

Spice and her mother and sister met with Wal-Mart’s manager and asked to allow her to be rehired and returned to her previous schedule, her lawyer said. However, Wal-Mart refused to rehire her, even though her dismissal letter said she could be hired again, her lawyer said.

On Thursday, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Green Bay found that Walmart violated the U.S. Disability Act, which prohibits discrimination based on employee disability, and punished Ms. Spaces. He gave $ 125 million in punitive damages. $ 150,000 for compensatory damages.

A jury, who deliberated three hours after the four-day trial, found that Wal-Mart was unable to provide a reasonable accommodation, even though it needed reasonable accommodation because of Down Syndrome. the company.

The jury also discovered that after Wal-Mart fired Mr. Spaces, she could not be rehired because of her disability.

“The jury here was clearly very angry, recognizing that Mr. Space had lost his job because of unnecessary and illegal inflexibility on the part of Wal-Mart,” he said. Gregory Gochanur, an Equal Opportunity Commission lawyer, said. Wal-Mart on behalf of Mr. Spaces.

Wal-Mart said in a statement that the verdict would be reduced to $ 300,000. This is the maximum amount permitted under federal law for compensatory and punitive damages.

“We do not tolerate any kind of discrimination and accept thousands of employees on a daily basis each year,” says Wal-Mart. “We often adjust our associates’ schedules to meet customer expectations. Spaeth’s schedule has been adjusted, but stayed within the time she showed she was available.”

“We are sensitive to this situation and believe we were able to solve the problem with Spaeth,” the company said. “But the EEOC’s requirements were unreasonable,” he added.

EEOC lawyers declined to comment, but the agency website Note that for employers with more than 500 workers, the maximum compensation and punitive damages is $ 300,000.

Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States, with more than 2.3 million employees worldwide and more than 1.6 million employees in the United States. website..

Julian Bowman, EEOC’s Chicago District Director, said employers, no matter how large, are obliged to assess the individual circumstances of employees with disabilities when considering a request for reasonable accommodation. It was.

“MS. Spaeth’s demands are simple, and denying them has changed her life significantly,” Bowman said. statement..

Dr. David Smith, a former program director at the Down Syndrome Clinic in Milwaukee, said in a court document that people with Down Syndrome need routines to manage their day and may not have the cognitive ability to adapt well to change. He said he had sex.

When Wal-Mart changed Mr. Space’s schedule, he said, the stress of the change and the pressure she felt to adapt to the new time could have disappointed her.

People with Down Syndrome “have a very good employee with the right work and understanding of their employer,” said Dr. Smith, an EEOC expert witness.

“Their work becomes a major focus of their lives and gives them self-esteem,” he said. “When Space’s schedule changed, she couldn’t adapt to that change.”

Jury awarded $ 125 million after Wal-Mart fired a woman with Down Syndrome

Source link Jury awarded $ 125 million after Wal-Mart fired a woman with Down Syndrome

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