A Walmart in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, set up a woman with Down syndrome for failure by willfully failing to accommodate her disability.
Marlo Spaeth had worked for Walmart for 16 years on a set schedule of 12 - 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Suddenly, they changed her schedule, having her work later and for longer hours. Due to her disability, Spaeth was unable to adjust to this change and Walmart subsequently fired her. They refused to accommodate her by returning her schedule to the way it was, despite her obvious difficulties. Furthermore, they refused to considering rehiring her, either due to her disability or the need to accommodate it.
The jury had awarded the woman $150,000 in compensatory damages and $125 million for punitive damages.
Per the EEOC regional attorney:
“The jury here recognized, and apparently was quite offended, that Ms. Spaeth lost her job because of needless — and unlawful — inflexibility on the part of Walmart,” Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said in the release about the jury's decision.
Walmart's focus went quite in another direction:
A Walmart spokesman, Randy Hardgrove, emailed the Herald Times and said that under federal law, the damages will be reduced to the maximum amount allowed, which is $300,000.
A Walmart spokesman said Walmart was reviewing its legal options but does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and routinely accommodates thousands of employees 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,” Hargrove said. “We’re sensitive to this situation and believe we could have resolved this issue with Ms. Spaeth, however the EEOC’s demands were unreasonable.”
That was not even close to be a non-apology. That was still trying to scapegoat Spaeth for their illegal conduct and practices.
It's not any wonder why Walmart is so anti-union. As business as usual for them, they have no respect for their workers.
Walmart is just lucky that the lawsuit didn't include an age discrimination component. It's obvious they had set her up because she had been there for 16 years. They could easily hire a new worker for a lot less money. Or maybe that's just me. Being a former union chief steward, I always tried to go for the jugular, when defending a member.