(Scroll down for video) U.S. retail giant Walmart, is facing a federal lawsuit after being accused of firing an employee with Down syndrome because of her disability, according to court documents.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that Walmart violated federal law when it failed to accommodate and fired a longtime employee because of her disability.
According to the lawsuit, Marlo Spaeth, who has Down syndrome, was disciplined for absenteeism after her schedule of 15 years was changed by management.
Managers at Walmart ignored Spaeth’s repeated requests to work her usual shift of 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., insisting instead that she work the longer and later shifts that were assigned to her by a new computerized scheduling system.
Because of Spaeth’s disability, she was unable to adapt to the change in routine.
Spaeth’s sister, Amy Stevenson, who acts as her guardian, became involved after disciplinary actions resulted in Spaeth’s termination.
Stevenson tried to protect her sister’s rights under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), demanding that Walmart rehire Spaeth and allow her to work her preferred schedule of 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. as a reasonable accommodation.
Walmart refused, failing again to accommodate Spaeth, in violation of the ADA.
EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order Walmart to reinstate Spaeth with appropriate back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
Spaeth had a long record of successful employment with Walmart, receiving multiple pay raises and satisfactory performance reviews over the years.