August 12, 2022
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Aiken Store Revoked Accommodation for Employee to Use Store’s Electric Cart and Then Sent Him Home Without Pay, Federal Agency Charges
Wal-Mart Stores East, LP violated federal law when its Aiken, South Carolina retail store failed to provide reasonable accommodation to a part-time sales associate and then placed him on indefinite unpaid leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, shortly after hiring after Luis Quiñones, who has a disability, Walmart accommodated Quiñones by permitting him to use one of the store’s electric carts to perform his job duties, which included stocking shelves. Approximately seven months later, and several months after Quiñones had completed his probationary period with the use of the store’s electric cart, a new manager told Quiñones he was no longer able to use the cart and sent him home without pay.
Walmart offered no explanation other than telling Quiñones that the store’s electric carts are for customer use only, even though other employees were permitted to use the carts to accommodate temporary injuries. Walmart told Quiñones he would have to provide his own electric cart or transfer to a self-checkout host position. Because Quiñones was unable to purchase and transport an electric cart of his own and is physically not capable of performing the duties of the self-checkout host due to his disability, Walmart placed Quiñones on indefinite unpaid leave.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from workplace discrimination and requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No.: 1:22-cv-02596) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief for the employee, including back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks injunctive relief against the company to end any ongoing discrimination and to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
“Walmart revoked a reasonable workplace accommodation that enabled Mr. Quiñones to perform the essential functions of his job despite his disability, and then failed to provide him with a reasonable alternative,” said Melinda C. Dugas, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Such conduct violates federal law. The EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue these civil rights violations and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to work without fear of being arbitrarily forced from their employment.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.
The EEOC’s Charlotte District is charged with enforcing federal employment anti-discrimination laws in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.