Report Exposes Deliberate Discrimination against Employees with Disabilities
By Gerri Elder
Wal-Mart Watch is a non-profit group based in Washington, DC that was founded in December 2004. The group's mission is to help make Wal-Mart a better a neighbor, employer, and corporate citizen by reforming its business practices.
On October 27, Wal-Mart Watch released a report entitled "Reasonable Accommodation - Denied" that will be distributed to all members of Congress, disabilities rights groups and other elected officials and organizations. The group says that the report exposes a conscious and deliberate strategy by Wal-Mart to disregard the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against the company's employees with disabilities.
In conjunction with the report, Wal-Mart Watch released a new video. In the video, a mother explains that her daughter, who worked at Wal-Mart and has a cognitive disability, was essentially fired after making a request for a schedule accommodation. The mother says that Wal-Mart forced her daughter to take a leave of absence while they considered the scheduling request.
The report shows that Wal-Mart deliberately uses the "leave of absence" tactic to get rid of employees with disabilities. In preparing the report, Wal-Mart Watch studied more than 700 federal discrimination lawsuits that have been filed against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from January 1, 2004 to the present. More than 100 of these civil lawsuits were filed by people with disabilities.
Since 2001, Wal-Mart has had its own ADA office to oversee compliance with an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) consent decree. The company was forced to create the office because of numerous ADA violations. However, Wal-Mart Watch concludes that the internal ADA office has not resolved discrimination problems within the company.
"Reasonable Accommodation - Denied," takes a close look at many currently pending lawsuits against Wal-Mart. Two disturbing trends emerge from the group's analysis.
- It is obvious from the research done by the group that Wal-Mart intentionally employs a tactic that is referred to as the "leave of absence trick" in the report. The company allegedly routinely requires employees with disabilities to take an unpaid leave of absence as a method of terminating their employment.
- Additionally, it is clear that Wal-Mart has repeatedly refused to comply with federal law and provide ADA-mandated accommodations for employees and applicants with disabilities.
Wal-Mart Watch hopes that by distributing the report and video it will be providing helpful information to make sure that the rights of Americans with disabilities are protected, laws are upheld and Wal-Mart's discrimination tactics are banished.