Wal­mart en­acts dis­abil­ity re­as­sign­ment pol­icy change

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front -

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Wal­mart has agreed to change its na­tional pol­icy for re­as­sign­ing dis­abled work­ers to set­tle a law­suit brought by the U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion in Maine.

The set­tle­ment re­quires Wal­mart to of­fer dis­abled work­ers a va­cant po­si­tion in up to five nearby stores in­stead of just an em­ployee’s cur­rent lo­ca­tion. Wal­mart also agreed to pay $80,000 to a worker who was not of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to trans­fer to an­other store.

The law­suit, in fed­eral court in Ban­gor, was filed on be­half of a long­time worker who de­vel­oped a dis­abil­ity that pre­vented her from con­tin­u­ing her job as a sales as­so­ci­ate.

Wal­mart deter­mined that the only po­si­tions that were suit­able for her were as a greeter or fit­ting room as­so­ci­ate.

Such jobs were avail­able at Wal­mart stores in Water­ville and Thomas­ton, but not at the worker’s store in Augusta. She parted ways with the re­tailer in 2014.

The law­suit con­tended Wal­mart vi­o­lated the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act by de­clin­ing to of­fer jobs at other lo­ca­tions.

“Fed­eral law re­quires em­ploy­ers to re­as­sign em­ploy­ees with a dis­abil­ity to va­cant po­si­tions as the rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion of last re­sort,” Jef­frey Burstein, re­gional at­tor­ney for the EEOC’s district of­fice in New York, said in a state­ment.

Wal­mart didn’t ac­knowl­edged wrong­do­ing un­der a con­sent de­cree, signed by a fed­eral judge on Wed­nes­day, but did agree to changes its prac­tices.

Wal­mart spokesman Randy Har­grove said Satur­day that a change of pol­icy was al­ready in the works and was be­ing tested through a pi­lot pro­gram be­fore the set­tle­ment was an­nounced late Fri­day. The new pol­icy will be rolled out to Wal­mart stores na­tion­wide in Fe­bru­ary, he said.

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