Walmart fires worker over how his seizures caused him to miss work in NC, lawsuit says
A man worked at Walmart for years before he started experiencing seizures beyond his control — ultimately costing him his job as a manager, a federal lawsuit filed in North Carolina said.
Walmart first hired him as a cashier at the store located along Town Drive in Raleigh in 2012, according to the lawsuit. He was repeatedly promoted over the next few years until April 2017, when he began having seizures needing medical treatment which caused lateness and absences, the lawsuit said.
To fully recover from a seizure, it could take him 45 minutes up to an entire day, as it made him lose consciousness, bite his tongue and lose control of his bowels, a complaint filed March 30 says.
Despite multiple doctor’s notes given to Walmart about the reason behind his absences – and requesting medical leave as an accommodation for his disability – he was ultimately demoted to a deli position and fired, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Now, the EEOC is suing Walmart, accusing it of disability discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act by firing the employee, the agency announced in a March 30 news release.
“Employees with disabilities should be able to seek medical treatment without fear of losing their jobs,” Melinda C. Dugas, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, said in a statement.
Walmart is reviewing the complaint and plans to respond in court, Marci Burks, Walmart’s director of corporate affairs, told McClatchy News in a statement on March 31.
“We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind and take allegations like this seriously,” Burks’ statement on behalf of the company said.
Employee’s seizure at Walmart sends him to emergency room
The employee was working at Walmart when a seizure sent him to the emergency room on July 25, 2017, the complaint says. He had returned to work that day after being absent due to a seizure requiring medical treatment the day before, according to the complaint.
Over the next few months, subsequent seizures caused him to miss work and his disability “intensified” by January 2018, the complaint says.
With his seizures being more frequent, the employee was demoted to a deli sales associate position due to his “disablity-related” absences, according to the complaint.
In June 2018, his co-worker, an assistant store manager, told him to “watch” his absences even though by this point he had requested a disability-related accommodation, the complaint says.
On Aug. 4, 2018, the employee arrived at work and was told he was fired, according to the complaint.
Although the employee explained “he had a disability, that his absences were due to his disability, and that he had requested a disability-related reasonable accommodation,” Walmart denied his requests for reasonable accommodations, the complaint says.
The EEOC first tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement with Walmart before filing the lawsuit, the agency said in the release.
It aims to recover back pay and compensatory damages for the former Walmart employee, according to the release.
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