Complainant was awarded over $125 million
After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process, EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. EEOC presented evidence that a change Walmart made to the claimant’s (Marlo Spaeth) longstanding work schedule caused her significant difficulty. When she requested her start and end times be adjusted by 60 to 90 minutes and to be returned to her prior work schedule, Walmart failed to act on the request and fired her instead. Walmart also turned down Spaeth’s later request to be rehired. Spaeth worked for Walmart for approximately 16 years and regularly received positive performance evaluations from her managers.
Following a four-day trial, the eight-member jury awarded Speth $150,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000,000 in punitive damages.
Key here, as the EEOC’s Chicago District Director put it, is the requirement, under the ADA (and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act), that “[e]mployers, no matter how large, have an obligation… to evaluate the individual circumstances of employees with disabilities when considering requests for reasonable accommodations.”
The OFCCP’s audit scheduling letter includes a request for “documentation of any accommodation requests received and their resolution if any.” It is important for clients not only to act on all requests for accommodations and conduct individualized assessments but also to maintain supporting documentation. Maintaining a log of accommodation requests and their disposition, as well as developing a centralized accommodation process, are recommended best practices. If you’d like additional information, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-414-2410.