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EEOC Sues Walmart for Discriminating Against an Employee With Down Syndrome

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Walmart after a store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fired an employee with Down syndrome. Marlo Spaeth, who worked at the store for 15 years, was terminated from the company after repeatedly failing to show up for work after her schedule was changed.

According to the lawsuit, Spaeth worked from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. for 15 years and struggled to adapt to her new schedule, which was changed by a computer system to include longer and later shifts. After her hours were changed, Spaeth asked her managers to switch her schedule back to what she was accustomed, requests all denied by her managers. Spaeth was then disciplined for failing to complete shifts until she was ultimately fired.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges firing Spaeth violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protects people with disabilities from discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

“Walmart’s refusal to accommodate such a simple scheduling request here is not only a violation of the ADA, it’s also an example of how easily a successful 15-year career can be harmed by disability discrimination,” Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the Chicago District, said in an EEOC press release.

A spokesperson for Walmart replied to The Mighty’s request for comment, stating:

One of our core beliefs is respect for all individuals, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. When a store’s needs change, we often adjust associate schedules to meet those demands. Ms. Spaeth’s job requirements were no different. We repeatedly spoke with Ms. Spaeth about the importance of working her full work schedule and she told us she understood. Despite this, she continually failed to complete her assigned shift and that is the reason she is no longer with the company. We’re sensitive to this situation and we tried to reach an amicable resolution that would support Ms. Spaeth.  We remain open to continuing those discussions, but the EEOC has not acted in her best interest.

Originally published: January 19, 2017
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