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Walmart Accused Of Violating Disabilities Act

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Federal regulators are suing Walmart for allegedly looking the other way while an employee with developmental disabilities was sexually harassed by a co-worker for years.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought the suit on behalf of Jamie Wells who has developmental disabilities and worked at an Akron, Ohio Walmart for more than 11 years.

A male co-worker subjected Wells to sexual harassment and inappropriate touching at the store between 2005 and 2011, according to the complaint filed in federal court. Even though managers were aware of the harassment, they did not take appropriate action, the EEOC said. What’s more, the suit indicates that Wells was fired three weeks after she complained about the conduct.

The EEOC is accusing the retail giant of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in addition to lost wages and benefits.

“Ms. Wells’ impairment made her particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment,” said Debra Lawrence, an attorney with the EEOC. “Once this Walmart was put on notice of the harassment, it had a legal responsibility to take immediate and appropriate action to stop the misconduct.”

For their part, Walmart officials insist that they acted appropriately.

“Walmart does not tolerate any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace,” said Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman, in a statement to Disability Scoop. “When we learned of Ms. Wells’ claims against her co-worker, we investigated and took decisive action to terminate the man whom she was accusing. As part of our investigation, witness accounts led us to discover that Ms. Wells also engaged in inappropriate conduct which led to her dismissal.”

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. Jeanne M. says:

    So, she’s sexually harrassed for years and then is fired because she told? They need to sue the pants off these folks so that it will NEVER happen again. Absolutely awful.

  2. Lela says:

    Not surprised. Wal Mart habitually mistreats its employees, whether they have a disability or not. They bully them and don’t provide the adequate breaks, etc. My nephew worked as a “cart boy” here in Louisiana and they were denied water and breaks in the middle of summer (temps over 100 degrees) and would get in trouble for taking breaks. He was fired because he told them he needed to go to the doctor and they told him if he left work he would be fired. He left anyway and was treated for dehydration – they also changed his taxes all around. Wal Mart is evil.

  3. John says:

    Let’s stop jumping to conclusions without knowing some facts. If the court determines that Wal-Mart did follow appropriate protocol and Jamie Wells was contributing or initiating the inappropriate behavior, will you still have the same comment?
    If Wal-Mart is guilty, then yes, they should be penalized to the max. But, if they are not guilty, what then?? Our comments are forever imbedded on the Internet.

  4. Leon Melvin says:

    I think we can all agree that sexual harassment can and should not be tolerated. I don’t know all the facts of the case, so I will reserve judgement. I will say based on my observations, that Walmart has been an advocate for employing disabled individuals. I can still remember that young man (Walmart employee) assembling that bicycle at a Walmart store, that young man who had no legs.

  5. Marie says:

    I just read the story of the woman who was sexually harassed and touched inappropriately, I worked for this company and experienced the same nonchalant additude of management. However, in my circumstance the co-worker was finally promoted and transfered to another store. I had to work side by side with him in the same department. His language that he used with me was very degrading. Thankfully, I no longer am employed by this company. I am so glad that this woman may get the counseling and support to overcome this injustice. My heart goes out to her. I am so glad she has filed this case, it helps to reinstate belief in justice for all. You and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. srmcmahon says:

    EEOC does not take legal action unless there is extremely strong evidence favoring the victim of alleged discrimination. The administrative process for filing complaints (which has to occur prior to legal action) is long and burdensome for victims.

  7. Debra Flagg says:

    Very disappointed to hear that a corporate giant that doesn’t provide medical benefits to employees could do such a thing.

  8. Rylin Mariel says:

    “witness accounts” – yeah, right…

  9. Cynthia Lawson Amaya says:

    How about the constant practise of these companies not hiring people with disabilities, when will a stand be taking for that. Sexual harrassment for that long Walmart has no excuse.

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