Wal-Mart Hit with $7.5M ADA Verdict

February 25, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A New York jury has slapped Wal-Mart with a $7.5 million award in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) suit filed by a worker with cerebral palsy who was assigned to collect garbage even though he was supposed to work in the pharmacy.

However, despite the award by the federal court jury that included $5 million in punitive damages, the $5 million is expected to be cut to $300,000 to $800,000 because of federal punitive damage caps, according to news reports.

The reports indicated that jurors found that the retail giant discriminated against Patrick Brady, 21, by hiring him as a pharmacy assistant, but then reassigning him to collect carts and pick up trash in the parking lot after a single drugstore work shift at the Centereach, New York store. Scott had previously worked as a pharmacy assistant at a local drugstore, according to the reports. Brady’s lawsuit alleged that Yem Hung Chin, chief pharmacist at the store, told the store manager that Brady was not “fit for the pharmacy job.”

Brady only ended up working for the company for four days before he quit in mid-2002.

Brady’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said he believed the jury was influenced by the fact that Wal-Mart is subject to a 2001 court-ordered agreement related to previous violations of the ADA. The agreement requires Wal-Mart to provide sensitivity training to employees and clearly post information about the law.

“We appreciate the service of the jurors, but disagree with their decision,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Davis Gallagher said after the verdict, according to the news reports. “We feel very strongly that Mr. Brady did not suffer discrimination in our store. Wal-Mart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. As soon as Mr. Brady expressed dissatisfaction with his position, we transferred him to another position that he requested. Although the jury has reached a decision, we do not expect the court to enter a final judgment until we have the opportunity to establish how the jury was wrong. We are optimistic that the award will be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether.”