Walmart has failed to reverse a decision over its violating disability law by refusing a work coach for a blind and deaf cart pusher.
The retail giant has lost a case on the Seventh Circuit to reverse a decision or grant a new trial over a case held in October 2019.
That case involved Paul Reina, a deaf and visually challenged cart pusher.
Action was taken after Reina was denied accommodation and eventually dismissed because of his disabilities.
A jury granted the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission $5.2 million in October 2019 in favor of Reina, after concluding Reina was denied accommodation and dismissed due to his impairments.
Reina also has a developmental handicap and is visually challenged.
He had been a cart pusher at the Walmart in Beloit, Wisconsin, for 16 years, and he worked with the support of a publicly sponsored job coach as a reasonable workplace accommodation.
Reina was suspended when a new manager took over and said he needed to resubmit medical documents in order to preserve his reasonable accommodations for his disability.
While Reina was working with his legal guardian to resubmit the required paperwork but “the store cut off communication and effectively terminated him, though Reina’s ability to do his job with a reasonable accommodation had not changed,” the lawsuit claimed.
The jury found Walmart’s refusal to allow Reina to continue working with a job coach as a reasonable workplace accommodation violated the ADA and awarded him $200,000 in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages.
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago office said: “Employers have a legal obligation under federal law to work with employees who need accommodations for disabilities,”
“In this case, the jury sent a strong message to Walmart and to other employers that if they fail to live up to their obligations under the law, they will be penalized.”
Walmart maintains its denial of wrongdoing, stating that the company requested the employee resubmit his medical documents due to safety concerns.
The company says it found that the employee could not perform the essential duties of his job either with or without reasonable accommodations.
“We attempted to accommodate Reina’s severe limitations for several years, but ultimately that was no longer feasible.”
Walmart said that it regularly provides accommodations for thousands of employees each year and that it is considering its post-trial options.
Source: Bloomberg Law