Walmart Inc. lost a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin when a jury sided with a sales associate who has Down Syndrome and alleged that schedule changes exacerbated attendance problems that led to her firing.
The jury in federal court in Green Bay awarded Marlo Spaeth more than $125 million in punitive damages on Thursday, but a Walmart spokesman said Friday that under federal law, that will be reduced to the maximum allowed, which is $300,000. The jury also awarded Spaeth $150,000 in compensatory damages, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday in announcing the ruling. The EEOC brought the case against Walmart.
“The substantial jury verdict in this case sends a strong message to employers that disability discrimination is unacceptable in our nation’s workplaces,” EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows said in a statement.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the retail giant was reviewing its legal options. He said Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and routinely accommodates thousands of employees every year.