Walmart faces a lawsuit after denying an employee with intellectual disabilities a set work schedule. (Shutterstock)
BANGOR, Maine – The Maine Human Rights Commission has sued discount giant Walmart in federal court for refusing to provide a weekly schedule to an employee with intellectual disabilities.
Last May, the commission found that managers had violated the Disabled Americans Act and Maine Human Rights Act by failing to host Michael Morin, 40, from Skowhegan, who has worked at the site for nearly 20 years .
Walmart and the commission were unable to reconcile the matter, so the commission filed the lawsuit on Morin’s behalf with the Kennebec County Supreme Court in Augusta. Lawyers for the discount chain moved the case to the US District Court in Bangor because Walmart’s headquarters are outside of the state.
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Augusta attorney Kristen Aiello of Disability Rights Maine represents Morin through his mother, Pauline Champagne of Skowhegan, who is his legal guardian. The attorney said the family is grateful that the commission joined the lawsuit.
“It is a real scratch that 30 years after the ADA was passed, Walmart would be deliberately creating a planning system that is in obvious violation of the law,” Aiello said late last week.
The lawsuit concerns unspecified damage and a permanent injunction designed to prevent Walmart stores from refusing to adhere to set schedules for employees with disabilities.
Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, said the company does not tolerate any form of discrimination and provides shelter to workers with disabilities.
“When the requirements of our branches change, we often adapt the schedules of the employees to these requirements. Our decision here is based on legitimate business needs, ”said Hargrove. “We took this issue seriously and tried to resolve the matter with Mr. Morin and the Human Rights Commission prior to filing this case. We will respond with the court if necessary. “
According to the complaint, Morin started working in the shop as a cart attendant in 2001. He received increases and positive reviews of his work while sticking to a set schedule until 2019, when Walmart transitioned to a computerized planning system designed to have employees in-store based on customer traffic.
This system did not allow employees to work less than four hours per shift or set weekly schedules. Morin’s set schedule allowed him to work between three and three and a half hours a day three days a week, the complaint said. Walmart denied Morin’s request for housing, claiming it made no sense to override the planning software for an individual.
Morin continues to work at the Skowhegan Walmart, Aiello said.
The American With Disabilities Act allows employers to decline reasonable accommodation requests for workers with disabilities if it poses an undue burden. The Maine Human Rights Commission found that Walmart’s rejection of Morin’s motion did not meet these criteria.
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