Not Hiring Mentally Disabled Employee Produces EEOC Suit Against Kmart

July 30, 2003 ( - The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken retailer Kmart Corp. to court with allegations the company turned away a mentally disabled man as a potential employee in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.

>Filed in St. Louis federal court, the EEOC alleges that the retailer refused to hire Edward Jones, 35, of Overland Park, Kansas because of his mental disability. That violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the agency alleged, according to a Dow Jones report.

>Jones is mildly mentally retarded but qualified to perform the duties of stocker, the EEOC suit said. The lawsuit claimed that he scored higher on Kmart’s pre-employment questionnaire than applicants later hired for the job.

>The lawsuit seeks back pay, unspecified damages and an injunction to prevent future discrimination against people with disabilities.

“It is important that employers realize that obeying the law, with respect to the ADA, means not making hiring decisions based upon stereotypes or prejudices regarding applicants with either physical or mental limitations,” said Lynn Bruner, director of the EEOC office in St. Louis in a statement.