Wal-Mart sued after firing victim of workplace sexual harassment

Employment claims filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act here in Wisconsin often involve accusations of discrimination in hiring, advancement or other work-related activities. Discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace is often subtle–such as the failure of an employer to provide a worker with accommodations that would aid in his or her abilities to do a job, for example. A lawsuit that was recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a division of Wal-Mart involves allegations of very egregious ADA violations.

The EEOC has accused Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., which operates Wal-Mart stores in the eastern part of the country, of allowing a male employee to sexually harass a developmentally disabled female employee, and of firing the woman when she complained to management about the abuse.

This alleged conduct is illegal under several laws, including the ADA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and possibly criminal laws as well.

The harassment reportedly took place at a store in Akron, Ohio, where the victim was employed for more than a decade. From 2005 to 2011, the lawsuit states, she was subjected to sexual harassment and unwanted sexual touching from a male employee. When the victim complained to management about these horrible workplace activities, not only did store managers fail to put a stop to the harassment, but they fired the victim.

The lawsuit states that the harassment violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, while failing to provide reasonable accommodations to the female employee–including proper training and supervision, as well as information about anti-harassment policies–violated the ADA.

The lawsuit requests compensation for the woman’s lost wages and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

It is important that Wisconsin residents are aware that not only are things like discrimination and harassment illegal, but it is also illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who complain about unlawful behavior in the workplace. Victims of such employment rights violations may benefit from legal counsel.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “EEOC Sues Wal-Mart for Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Disability Discrimination,” April 10, 2013


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