EEOC sues Walmart for refusing to hire Houston amputee seeking stocker job
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday filed a lawsuit against Walmart, alleging the company refused to hire a former Houston high school basketball player born with one hand who was seeking a stocker job at a Conroe store.
The EEOC, which enforces federal laws banning discrimination in the workplace, said the nation’s largest retailer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it failed to consider a Houston woman born without her right forearm and hand. Federal law prohibits discrimination against qualified job candidates with disabilities.
Jesse Landry, who doesn’t wear a prosthetic arm or hand, applied for several positions at the Conroe Walmart in the summer of 2015, and was interviewed for a stocker job on July 14, 2015. During the interview, a Walmart manager told Landry that she would not be able to perform the job because of her disability and ended the interview, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
Congenital amputation, whereby a person is born without a limb or limbs, affects one in every 3,800 children, according to the Amputation Coalition of America.
Landry was surprised by the Walmart manager’s response, said Lloyd Van Oostenrijk, an EEOC trial attorney.
Landry played varsity basketball for Nimitz High School averaging seven points and three assists per game, and had experience as a stocker for a local bookstore when she applied to Walmart, Oostenrijk said.
“She had been used to people treating her relatively normally,” Oostenrijk said of Landry. “For her, this came as a real shock to realize that not everyone was willing to overlook her disability and give her a fair chance that they would give anyone else.”
Walmart said it is an equal opportunity employer that employs thousands of workers with disabilities who perform their jobs with and without reasonable accommodations.
“We do not tolerate discrimination,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “We deny the allegations and have no record that Ms. Landry was denied the opportunity to work for us because of an alleged disability.”
The EEOC, which attempted to reach a pre-trial settlement through a conciliation process, is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages from Walmart on behalf of Landry. The federal agency is also seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Walmart from engaging in any disability discrimination in the future.
Walmart said it tried to resolve the case before the lawsuit was filed and remains open to further discussions.
The EEOC has sued Walmart in the past over accusations of discrimination against workers with disabilities.
Earlier this month, the commission filed a lawsuit against Walmart, alleging the retailer forced pregnant workers at a Wisconsin warehouse to go on unpaid leave and denied their requests for easier duties.
Last year, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Walmart for firing a 15-year employee with Down syndrome after she repeatedly failed to show up for work after being assigned longer and later shifts by a new computerized scheduling system.