Retailer Refused to Reasonably Accommodate Applicant With End-Stage Renal Disease, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., will pay $72,500 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, an assistant store manager at the Walmart store in Cockeysville, Md., offered Laura Jones a job as an evening sales associate, contingent on Jones passing a urinalysis test for illegal drugs. After Jones advised that she cannot produce urine because she has end-stage renal disease, the assistant store manager told her to ask the designated drug testing company about alternate tests, the EEOC said. According to the complaint, Jones went to the drug testing facility the same day and learned that the facility could do other drug tests if the employer requested it. Jones relayed this information to the Walmart assistant store manager, but management refused to order an alternative drug test. Jones's application was closed for failing to take a urinalysis within 24 hours.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00862-JKB) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing $72,500 in monetary relief to Jones, the 30-month consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Wal-Mart from taking any future adverse employment actions on the basis of disability and failing to provide reasonable accommodations. Wal-Mart will revise its applicant drug screen form to advise applicants that alternate drug screens will be available as a reasonable accommodation for applicants to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made in the Cockeysville store whose physical condition prevents them from producing urine and how to request a reasonable accommodation. Wal-Mart East shall provide training on the ADA and the revised drug screen form to its market and regional human resources directors, as well as to people with hiring responsibility at the Cockeysville store. The company will also furnish other remedial and preventive measures. Wal-Mart East will also post a notice regarding the resolution of this lawsuit.
"This is the fourth EEOC lawsuit alleging the employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation and refused to hire a qualified applicant when the solution-to provide a blood drug test during the drug screening process-was simple," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "We are pleased that Wal-Mart East is providing targeted training and disseminating a memorandum on its drug screen policy, and hope that this settlement encourages all employers to review their hiring and post-offer drug screening procedures to ensure that qualified applicants are provided with needed reasonable accommodations."
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "Most reasonable accommodations required under the ADA are free or inexpensive, such as this case, where the accommodation needed was an easy fix-the employer just has to offer alternative tests, such as a blood test, for applicants who need it for medical reasons."
Other EEOC lawsuits involving this issue are: EEOC v. Kmart Corporation; Sears Holdings Management Corporation; Sears Holding Corporation, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Civil Action No. 13-cv-02576), EEOC v. Fort Worth Center of Rehabilitation, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:13-cv-1736), which settled for $30,000 and equitable relief, and EEOC v. G2 Secure Staff, LLC, (Civil Action No. 5:11-cv-475), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District for North Carolina, which settled for $30,000 and equitable relief.
Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., of Bentonville, Ark., operates Wal-Mart's retail stores in the Eastern United States.
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov