Mocking Employees Places Wal-Mart in Hot Water After Charges of Disability Discrimination

An interesting case this week charges Wal-Mart with failing to prevent a hostile work environment and disability discrimination.  The former employee was a disabled forty-seven year old with cerebral palsy who had a long and proven track record of nineteen years working at Wal-Mart.  He even had a coach who trained him on how to satisfactorily perform his tasks at the supermarket.  However, by not providing him with reasonable accommodations and permitting his supervisors to place him in unfair and compromising work situations, often mocking him in front of the customers, Wal-Mart management infringed on his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Further, Wal-Mart even terminated him for insubordination after several instances of him doing his best to maintain a safe environment for the customers and do as he was directed.  After obtaining a right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the lawsuit was filed since there was a reasonable cause to believe that Wal-Mart discriminated against him through its agent supervisors.  See these blogs for similar cases.

California and the federal government have laws that protect employees in this regard. Specifically, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal ADA. FEHA) protects employees with mental and physical disabilities and with qualifying medical conditions against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. FEHA also protects employees over the age of 40 against discrimination. An employer must “regularly” employ five or more employees to be covered by FEHA. This means that if a business has five or more regular employees, then FEHA and its protections apply to those employees.

According to FEHA, an individual is disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that limits one or more major life activity. Examples of recognized disabilities include: high blood pressure, heart conditions, AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and multiple sclerosis. These are just a few physical and mental conditions that the law recognizes as disabilities. Other health conditions may qualify as a disability if it is a physiological, or body disorder. Note that FEHA also protects an employee who is not physically disabled, but who is “regarded as” by the employer to have a physical disability.  Our Los Angeles based employment law attorneys carefully follow the trends in this unique area of law and provide free consults.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible age or disability discrimination, prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial since these charges contain time limitations. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.