A judge has just denied Walmart a new trial after the company was ordered to pay an employee with Down syndrome $420,000 for disability discrimination.
In 2015, Walmart fired Marlo Spaeth, a woman with Down syndrome who was a company employee of nearly 16 years, for "excessive absenteeism." Her trouble with attendance began after the company changed her "previously consistent schedule" to a "digital timetable system," which caused her "significant difficulty," according to Business Insider. But rather than simply accommodate her disability, the company let her go.
From Business Insider:
"Wal-Mart knew that Ms. Spaeth was disabled and that she had requested a return to the old schedule because if she could not eat supper on time she would get sick," the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] wrote in the lawsuit.
It said that Walmart had denied repeated requests from Spaeth to revert to the prior work schedule and fired her for "excessive absenteeism." It then refused to rehire her after she requested a return to her former work schedule, per the EEOC's lawsuit.
"Wal-Mart failed to accommodate Ms. Spaeth, unlawfully disciplined her, terminated her employment, and failed to rehire her," the EEOC wrote.
In April Walmart requested a new trial, saying that "nothing in Walmart's knowledge" suggested that Spaeth's request to return to her previous schedule was linked to her Down syndrome and that it had never been given a doctor's note explaining the link. …
"Based on the evidence presented at trial and the jury's determination that Walmart was aware of Spaeth's disability but refused her numerous requests for a disability accommodation, terminated her, and declined to reinstate her after Spaeth's sister referred to the ADA, Walmart acted 'in the face of a perceived risk' that its conduct would violate federal law," Griesbach wrote.
So far, according to sister Amy Jo Stevenson, Spaeth "still hasn't seen a penny."