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Walmart Faces Lawsuit by EEOC Over Firing Deli Worker with Crohn’s Disease

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Walmart Faces Lawsuit by EEOC Over Firing Deli Worker with Crohn’s Disease

Walmart is facing a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for terminating the employment of an employee in North Carolina who had Crohn’s disease, following allegations that the company declined to provide her with leave related to her disability.

According to a complaint filed in federal court in Charlotte, the EEOC has accused Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its handling of Adrian Tucker, a deli worker who was fired due to her Crohn’s disease.

Months after a Wisconsin federal court judge rejected Walmart’s request for a new trial, the EEOC has filed a lawsuit against the retailer for firing an employee with Down syndrome.

Marlo Spaeth, an employee of a Walmart Supercenter for almost 16 years, was wrongfully terminated by Walmart in 2021 for not accommodating her disability when her working hours were changed. The jury found Walmart guilty, and as a result, Walmart was ordered to pay over $125 million in damages. However, the judge later reduced the amount to the maximum allowed by law, which is $300,000.

In a statement, a representative from Walmart mentioned that the company has been a leading employer for individuals with disabilities for a considerable amount of time, with thousands of employees performing their jobs with reasonable accommodations, including taking suitable leave. The representative also stated that Walmart does not accept any form of discrimination and takes such allegations seriously. The company is currently reviewing the complaint and intends to respond accordingly in court after receiving it.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Walmart terminated Tucker’s employment in North Carolina for violating the company’s attendance policy, which stated that she had nine “unauthorized” absences within six months. Tucker worked at Walmart’s Statesville store from February 2014 to April 2017, where she performed various duties, such as serving customers, taking orders, preparing food, washing dishes, and lifting boxes of chicken weighing up to 50 pounds.

The complaint states that Tucker has Crohn’s disease, a chronic bowel condition that can result in inflammation of the digestive tract, causing symptoms such as stomach cramps, dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. The EEOC claims that Walmart did not provide appropriate accommodations for Tucker when she experienced these symptoms several times between November 2016 and April 2017.

According to the complaint, Tucker requested intermittent leave or excused absences and also asked to be relocated to a job position that was closer to the bathroom due to her Crohn’s disease. Although Walmart excused some of her disability-related absences, the company allegedly did not accommodate other absences that were related to medical appointments and hospitalization.

The EEOC is pursuing financial compensation for Tucker, which includes back pay, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The commission is also requesting injunctive relief against Walmart to put an end to any current discriminatory practices.

In a statement, Melinda Dugas, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, stated that “the Americans with Disabilities Act was established to safeguard employees such as this deli associate.” The attorney representing Tucker chose not to comment beyond the complaint due to the ongoing litigation.

About Vijendra

Vijendra
Vijendra has a master’s degree in Marketing and editor with passion. Exploring economic policies of different economies and analyzing geo-politics policies is of keen interest. In his free time he is a hardcore metal-rock and punk music fanatic.

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