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A jury determined Walmart violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it refused to accommodate a longtime developmentally disabled employee. The worker, who is also visually impaired and deaf, worked as a cart pusher at the Beloit store for 16 years.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said Walmart had accommodated the employee’s special needs for years until a new manager arrived at the store and suspended the worker, forcing him to resubmit medical paperwork in order to continue receiving those accommodations.

Walmart ended communication with the worker

The EEOC said the worker’s medical condition had not changed during the time he had worked there, and before his suspension, the man was able to perform his duties with the assistance of a job coach, who was provided with public funding.

The agency said the worker and his legal guardian submitted the new medical paperwork as the new Walmart manager required, asking for the continued assistance of the job coach. However, the EEOC says Walmart stopped communicating with the employee, which effectively terminated his employment.

Workers with disabilities are protected

The jury agreed with the EEOC after a 3 ½-day trial and awarded the man $200,000 in compensatory damages and tacked on an additional $5 million in punitive damages, which Walmart promises to appeal.

The EEOC says the jury’s decision sends a strong message to all employers who fail to work with employees with special needs. If you have been discriminated against by an employer who failed to make a reasonable accommodation due to a disability, an experienced employment law attorney here in Wisconsin can help hold them accountable.