PERRY , FL. – Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores violated disability discrimination laws by mocking, harassing, and then firing a deaf employee, Jim Garrity charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the lawsuit, our client is a 24-year-old who was employed with the company in September 2021 and fired just two months later, in November 2021. She suffers from a hearing disability that left her 100% deaf in her right ear and 40-60% in her left ear. Her deafness was well-known to coworkers and managers. She disclosed her deafness during the hiring process and was very open about it with coworkers and her managers. In fact, the lawsuit says she requested and obtained a vest like those worn by other Walmart employees that contained a printed and conspicuous notice that she was deaf. Despite her managers’ awareness of her severe hearing loss, the lawsuit asserts, one or more managers would engage in behavior to mock and harass her. One, for example, would talk to Plaintiff while standing behind her, making it very difficult for Plaintiff to hear and understand what the manager was saying. That manager knew Plaintiff was deaf. The same manager refused to remove her mask during the COVID pandemic so our client could read her lips.
Refusing to remove an opaque mask to communicate with a deaf employee would be the same as placing obstacles in the path of a blind employee or needles on the keyboard of an employee who’d lost their sense of touch.
Eventually, the lawsuit contends, after our client complained about her treatment, she was falsely accused of policy violations and fired,
This alleged conduct violates the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), as amended, which requires an employer to reasonably accommodate qualified disabled employees and prohibits harassment against disabled employees for requesting reasonable accommodations. We filed suit in Circuit Court in Perry, Florida, where our client worked for the company. The City of Perry is about an hour south of Tallahassee, Florida’s capital.
We are seeking monetary damages for the terminated employee, including back pay, and compensatory and injunctive relief against the company, to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
“I am sorely disappointed at our client’s treatment. I expect every company, big and small, to have the understanding and compassion to treat deaf employees with respect and dignity,” Jim Garrity said. “I stand ready to stand up for the victims of injustice. Our firm will aggressively pursue remedies for victims of disability discrimination in the workplace and hold employers accountable for retaliation against employees for exercising their rights under the ADA.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit:
https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination. For more information on retaliation, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/retaliation.
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