It is easy to say that workers are legally protected against unlawful discrimination and retaliation on the job. It is far harder to understand what these protections entail and how to exercise them effectively. That is one of the primary reasons why the recent lawsuit filed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Walmart matters.
By reviewing the scenario, workers who are suffering similar challenges at their places of employment can better understand why the conduct that Walmart engaged in is illegal and what can be done about their own unlawful circumstances.
The EEOC is often empowered to file a lawsuit on behalf of a worker who has experienced unlawful discrimination while applying for a job, engaging in the conditions of employment or being terminated from a position. In this instance, the EEOC opted to file a lawsuit against Walmart after investigating and determining that the company was subjecting workers with disabilities to mandated testing as a condition of remaining employed.
Essentially, it was revealed that workers with disabilities who were doing satisfactory work were being summarily dismissed from their jobs if they couldn’t pass this mandatory testing. The key element of this case is that the testing itself wasn’t relevant to the workers’ job duties, nor to their performance of them. It was just testing that everyone had to take, and those with certain disabilities who couldn’t pass due to their disabilities were fired even though their job performance was sound.
The EEOC is seeking compensation for lost wages and benefits, in addition to both compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction against any additional discrimination. Understanding that others in similar situations may be entitled to such compensation is generally the first step in taking successful action against discriminatory employers.