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2001-12-20
Sacramento, CA. Wal-Mart Pays $6.8 Million Over Discrimination

Sprawl-Busters reported in a newsflash dated March 8, 1999, that the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) had sued Wal-Mart for discriminating against the disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act. . The lawsuit claimed that Wal-Mart violated the ADA by using a job questionnaire that asks applicants to indicate if they need any "accomodations" to perform required duties. The EEOC explained tha its against the law to ask about a disability before a job offer is made. Wal-Mart spokesmen responded by saying that the application question was designed to help applicants, not discriminate against them. "We didn't want an applicant to give up their current job, come to work for Wal-Mart, and then find out that we couldn't accomodate their needs," said a company spokesman.Nearly two years later, a federal judge has approved a $6.8 million settlement of the lawsuit. EEOC Chairwoman Cari M. Dominguez said Monday that approval by U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell in Sacramento, Calif., resolved the lawsuit against the retail chain. The EEOC said Wal-Mart had used the pre-employment questionnaire between Jan. 1, 1994, and Dec. 31, 1998. The questions sought too much information about the type of disability an applicant had, the government charged. Under the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay $3.8 million for workers who were turned down and $3 million to a fund for those workers yet to be identified. Wal-Mart also agreed to stop using the questionnaire and put in place several new or revised personnel policies. A Wal-Mart spokesman said he was ``pleased'' with the settlement,``We think it is the beginning of a new and better relationship with the EEOC. We feel they understand we truly want to comply with the ADA and that if we have inadvertently done something wrong or caused a problem, we want to see it resolved'' Wal-Mart told the media. This settlement was apparently a consolidation of discrimination lawsuits against Wal-Mart in a dozen other cases filed not only in their home state of Arkansas, but in North Carolina, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. If Wal-Mart "indavertently" did something wrong, they did it in ten states over a period of years. The $6.8 million fine, although low for similar cases filed against companies like Home Depot, is not so much a financial hit against the company, but more a statement about what kind of employer the company is.

What you can do: For more examples of stories about charges of discrimination brought against big box retailers, search the newflash database for "EEOC" or "discrimination".










 
 
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