EEOC sues Walmart for firing employee with Crohn’s disease

The Walmart logo is displayed outside their store near Bloomsburg.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued walmart for firing a North Carolina employee with Crohn’s disease after the retail giant allegedly refused to grant her disability leave.

EEOC complaintfiled in federal court in Charlotte accuses Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act against deli worker Adrian Tucker.

The lawsuit comes months after a Wisconsin federal court judge denied Walmart’s request for a new trial in a case in which the EEOC sued a retailer for firing an employee with Down syndrome.

In this case, a jury found in 2021 that Walmart wrongfully fired Marlo Spath, who worked at a Walmart supermarket for almost 16 years, after failing to account for her disability when her work schedule was changed.

The jury’s verdict called for Walmart to pay more than $125 million in damages for Spat’s treatment. The judge reduced that amount to $300,000, the maximum allowed by law.

“For many years we have been the best employer for people with disabilities, and we have thousands of employees who do their jobs with reasonable conditions, including applying for and receiving appropriate leave. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and take such allegations seriously. We are reviewing the complaint and will respond appropriately in court as soon as we are served,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement.

In a new North Carolina case, the EEOC alleges that Walmart fired Tucker for violating the company’s attendance policy after nine “unauthorized” absences over a six-month period.

Tucker worked at Walmart from February 2014 to April 2017 at its Statesville store.

While there, Tucker served customers, took orders, prepared meals, washed dishes, and lifted boxes of up to 50 pounds of chicken.

According to the complaint, Tucker suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to stomach cramps, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea.

The EEOC alleges that Walmart refused to provide her with reasonable accommodation when she experienced symptoms multiple times between November 2016 and April 2017.

The complaint also states that Tucker requested periodic leave or absence for a valid reason, as well as requested that he be moved to a position closer to the bathroom.

While Walmart justified some of her disability-related absences, it did not account for several other absences that were due to doctor visits and hospitalizations, the lawsuit says.

The EEOC seeks monetary compensation for Tucker, which includes wage arrears as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The commission is also seeking an injunction against Walmart to end any ongoing discrimination.

Melinda Dugas, EEOC Charlotte County Regional Attorney, said in a statement, “The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to protect employees like this deli employee.”

A lawyer representing Tucker declined to comment beyond the complaint, citing “pending litigation.”

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