LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Walmart is facing a federal lawsuit after the company was accused of discriminating against employees with disabilities, including two former employees in Arkansas.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit claims that the Betonville-based retailer violated federal law when it required employees with disabilities to participate in unlawful testing.
The suit claims that Walmart collaborated with a third-party entity in 2015 to create the “Pathways Training Program,” which included a test called the “Pathways Graduation Assessment.” By 2017, the suit alleges that it required its newly-hired hourly employees across the U.S. to complete the program.
The EEOC suit alleges that Walmart terminated employees with disabilities across the nation who failed the test after three attempts even though they were able to satisfactorily perform their jobs. The suit claims that the test was not related to the employee’s job duties or performance.
“Employees with disabilities face far too many obstacles in life, and the workplace should not be one of those obstacles,” Edmond Sims, acting district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, said. “Employees with disabilities who are successfully performing their jobs should be commended, not terminated.”
Federal officials said that one of the former Arkansas employees worked at a Supercenter store in North Little Rock and another at a Neighborhood Market Store in Fayetteville. Officials with EEOC said the employees’ disabilities contributed to both failing the test, leading to their termination despite their job performance.
The allegations that Walmart is facing violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The suit is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits and an injunction against future discrimination.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Walmart released a statement on the suit, saying the company had been a “top employer for those with disabilities” for a number of years and claiming the training offered accommodations in multiple points.
“Walmart has been a top employer for those with disabilities for years. We created our Pathways program with the needs of all associates in mind, and this included advising them of accommodation options through up to seven audial and visual pop-up notifications as they took the training and assessment,” the statement noted. “We discontinued the program several years ago and plan to defend the company.”