Walmart Sued for Firing Employee over Cancer-Related Disability

October 18, 2010 ( - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused Walmart of firing a longtime employee because of a cancer-related disability and in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination.

According to an EEOC lawsuit, the employee had successfully worked as a forklift operator at a Walmart distribution center in Midway, Tennessee, for 12 years. He was a productive worker for three years following cancer surgery which left him with weakness in his right shoulder and arm.   

An EEOC press release said that on November 24, 2008, Walmart asked the former employee to relieve a shipping department employee for a 20-minute break. Because his cancer surgery left him unable to manually lift, he could not replace the worker at this task. He then requested the reasonable accommodation of remaining in the forklift operator position he had worked for his entire career at Walmart, where no manual lifting was done, but Walmart refused his request.  

Instead, according to the agency, Walmart removed him from his forklift position, declared he could not perform the essential functions of his job, and placed him on unpaid leave. Ironically, on the same day it issued him an “outstanding” work evaluation.   

According to the announcement, the man continued to request an accommodation, and then filed a discrimination charge. Shortly thereafter, Walmart discharged him because of his disability and in retaliation for complaining about Walmart’s failure to accommodate him, according to the EEOC.

The lawsuit asks the court to grant a permanent injunction enjoining Walmart from failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for disability, discharging an employee due to a disability, and retaliating against any employee for complaining about the refusal to provide a reasonable accommodation. The lawsuit also seeks appropriate back wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the former employee.