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Walmart Ordered To Pay Employee With Down Syndrome $125 Million After Firing Her

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Walmart Ordered To Pay Employee With Down Syndrome $125 Million After Firing Her

Walmart has been ordered to pay out $125 million (£90.81m) after firing an employee who has Downe Syndrome.

A federal jury ruled that the store had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by dismissing Marlo Spaeth from a position she had held for 16 years.

During a four-day hearing, which was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the court heard that the female member of staff had been sacked due to issues relating to her work schedule.

Ms Spaeth was represented by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which presented three claims of disability discrimination against her former employer.

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It argued that a change to Ms Spaeth's usually consistent timetable had caused her 'significant difficulty' and that Walmart had not allowed her to revert to her previous one, despite her asking them to do so.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

As a result of the disagreement, Ms Spaeth was fired. Following her dismissal, Ms Spaeth asked to be rehired, but her request was denied.

Speaking after the hearing, Walmart said it expects the $125m awarded will be reduced greatly, to around $300,000, which is the maximum amount allowed under federal law.

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Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told Bloomberg Law: "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and we routinely accommodate thousands of associates every year.

"We often adjust associate schedules to meet our customers' expectations and while Ms Spaeth's schedule was adjusted, it remained within the times she indicated she was available.

"We're sensitive to this situation and believe we could have resolved this issue with Ms Spaeth, however the EEOC's demands were unreasonable."

This isn't the first time the major chain has been taken to court over allegations of discrimination.

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Last year, the company paid out $20m (£14.5m) after another EEOC lawsuit claimed that it had excluded a number of female applicants from positions as grocery packers.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Michelle Eisele, EEOC Indianapolis district director said, "One of the EEOC's six national priorities is eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.

"Employers need to ensure their testing and screening practices do not discriminate against any group."

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EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth L. Bird said: "The parties were able to reach an early resolution of this case due to Walmart's willingness to engage in settlement discussions.

"Distribution center jobs provide good career opportunities for women when sex-based barriers to hiring for those jobs are removed."

"Walmart operates 44 grocery distribution centers nationwide. Elimination of the PAT will allow more women to obtain a relatively high-paying entry-level position at one of these centers - a necessary first-step toward advancement," added EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Aimee L. McFerren.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Walmart, employee, US News, court

Dominic Smithers
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