Leading Retailer, Wal-Mart, Failed to Reasonably Accommodate Deaf Employees Federal Agency Charged
WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) – Wal-Mart Stores East, LP will pay $100,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that Wal-Mart Stores East, LP refused to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters and closed-captioned training videos, to two deaf employees who worked at Walmart Store No. 5941 in Northwest Washington, D.C. The employees were entitled to reasonable accommodations so they could obtain information from, and participate in, meetings, trainings and other workplace communications, the EEOC said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on an individual’s disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-2799) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to paying $100,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Walmart Store No. 5941 from violating the ADA, including engaging in unlawful retaliation. Walmart Store No. 5941 has also agreed to revise its reasonable accommodations Management Guidelines, provide live training to management employees on the ADA’s reasonable accommodations requirements, and address issues related to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, and provide training to all non-management employees on the ADA and the process for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Walmart Store No. 5941 will also post a notice about the settlement and report to the EEOC about its compliance with the consent decree.
“This settlement should encourage all employers to provide reasonable accommodations that allow equal access for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and applicants to engage fully in the workplace,” said Acting Washington Field Office District Director Mindy Weinstein.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and applicants with effective accommodations so they can participate in workplace communications and have equal employment opportunities.”
The EEOC’s Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.