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PRESS RELEASE
12-15-11

EEOC Sues Wal-Mart for Disability Discrimination and Retaliation

Placerville Store Denied Close Parking for Employee with Heart Condition, Federal Agency Charged

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  — Mega-retailer Wal-Mart violated federal law when it failed to accommodate an  employee with a disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The EEOC also charged that Wal-Mart later  fired the worker because of his disability and in retaliation for asserting his  civil rights.

According to the  EEOC’s investigation, David Gallo worked at the Walmart in Placerville, Calif.,  starting in June 2003. During his six  years at the store, Gallo’s successful performance was reflected in promotions  from overnight stocker to manager of the store’s tire lube express bay. Gallo has atrial fibrillation, a heart  condition that causes shortness of breath and  difficulty walking. In March 2008, the new  store manager barred Gallo from parking in the handicap parking spaces and any  spaces close to the front of the store, despite the company’s knowledge that  Gallo had a disability. Gallo filed a  charge with the EEOC for Wal-Mart’s failure to accommodate his disability in September  2008. Eight months later, he was  fired allegedly for an error made by a subordinate, even though the subordinate  and the inspector who had reviewed his work were not discharged.

“Letting me  park closer to my job was a little thing for Wal-Mart, but would have made a  big difference to me,” stated Gallo. “The  store manager made me move to the back of the parking lot, even after I showed  him my handicap placard. I asked for a  simple accommodation, and I lost my job over it.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits treating workers  unfavorably because they have a disability and requires employers to make  reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. The ADA  also prohibits retaliatory actions against employees for requesting an  accommodation or filing a charge with the EEOC. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 2:11-AT-01806)  in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, and seeks  monetary damages on behalf of Gallo, training on the ADA and other steps to prevent future  discrimination.

EEOC San Francisco Regional  Attorney William R. Tamayo said,  “In December 2001, the EEOC reached a $6.5 million  settlement with Wal-Mart. That consent  decree was in effect for four years, resolved 13 different cases of disability  discrimination against the company throughout the U.S.,  and required Wal-Mart to hire an ADA  coordinator. Nevertheless, it appears  that some store managers still do not understand their obligation to  accommodate people with disabilities.”

EEOC San Francisco District  Director Michael Baldonado commented, “Wal-Mart could have easily accommodated  Mr. Gallo, but despite his repeated requests, nothing happened until he filed  his EEOC charge. Wal-Mart compounded its  mistake by firing him in retaliation.  The EEOC will defend employees’ rights to ask for an accommodation for their  disabilities and to report discrimination when employers fail to respond properly  to their requests. ”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site  at www.eeoc.gov.