On behalf of a Wal-Mart employee in Augusta, Maine, Veronica Resendez, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) brought a lawsuit against Wal-Mart for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA protects employees with disabilities from discrimination, requiring that the employee be given reasonable accommodation, as an employment lawyer trusts can explain. Reasonable accommodation includes reassignment to a vacant position that accommodates for the employee’s disability at another one of the business’s locations. In Resendez’s case, Wal-Mart failed to reassign her to a vacant position at another store, as required by the ADA.
Wal-Mart Failed to Reassign Resendez to Another Available Position
Resendez was working as a sales associate, but her disability prevented her from being able to perform that particular job. Wal-Mart determined that the jobs that would be appropriate for her were fitting room associate or people greeter, but neither job was open at the Augusta store where she was working. At that point, Wal-Mart was required to look for one of those jobs at another store location. However, the problem – legally speaking – is that Wal-Mart’s policy was to only look for another position at the store where the employee was then working. This was – for purposes of the ADA – insufficient: Wal-Mart should have looked beyond the store Resendez was already working at to find a job that suited her accommodations, even if that meant at an other location.
Indeed, there was a job at a location in Waterville, Maine that could have been offered to Resendez, a position that Resendez even told Wal-Mart she would have taken. Wal-Mart has a policy of only searching for an appropriate position for 90 days. When the 90 days ended, Resendez did not have a job at Wal-Mart, and did not work there again. In addition, under the ADA, the employer had to contend that finding the employee the alternative job was an “undue hardship.” According to the EEOC attorneys, this by no means constitutes an undue hardship on Wal-Mart to have placed Resendez at another store location in Maine.
In sum, because Wal-Mart failed to find a suitable position for Resendez, as required by the ADA, the EEOC brought suit. The EEOC filed the suit in the District Court for the District of Maine, as EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores. The EEOC attempted to settle with Wal-Mart in a pre-litigation settlement, but ended up bringing the current suit for back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief on behalf of Resendez.