Federal Judge Fines Wal-Mart
ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
Jun. 14, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ A federal judge fined Wal-Mart $750,200 for violating an agreement to improve treatment and training of its deaf employees.
U.S. District Judge William D. Browning on Wednesday also ordered that the store chain produce a 30-second TV ad to be aired in Phoenix and Tucson every day for two weeks.
The commercial must explain the Americans with Disabilities Act, state that Wal-Mart has violated it, and refer people who may have been discriminated against to the Arizona Center for Disability Law or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Company spokesman William C. Wertz said Wal-Mart will seek another hearing with Browning, contending the company ``complied with most of the provisions'' of a consent decree it signed in January 2000.
The consent decree required Wal-Mart to accommodate William Darnell and Jeremy Fass, two deaf men who had alleged that the company violated the ADA in refusing to hire them at a Tucson store.
Those accommodations were to include interpreters for training and meetings, and a teletype telephone, called a TTY, installed in the store. Wal-Mart was also ordered to train its managers in Arizona on complying with the ADA.
Among other things, the judge found that Wal-Mart failed to train its staff within 180 days as called for in the consent decree.
While Wal-Mart provided Darnell and Fass with interpreters during their training and installed TTYs, Browning said no interpreter or other means of communication was available after their training ended.
Darnell received only ``hastily written notes ... grudgingly given'' from his supervisor, and ``it appears that Wal-Mart attempted to `warehouse''' him by restricting him to a certain area of the store, Browning said.
Both Darnell and Fass have left Wal-Mart.