Cultural Legal Issue - Disability or Dishonesty

Cultural Legal Issue

Legal suits involving diversity issues are occurring everyday all across America, even against the most unexpected people. In January 2000 the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that they filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. under Title I of the ADA of 1990, accusing Wal-Mart of failing to reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability at its Peoria Arizona store. This suit would be number sixteen nationwide against Wal-Mart for violating the rules and regulations of the ADA. The suit was filed in US District Court of Arizona, and sought compensatory and punitive damages, job reinstatement, and requires Wal-Mart to conduct training to prevent further ADA violation.

This particular lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart discriminated against employee Alice Rehberg by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for her disability. Mrs. Rehberg’s disability limits her from standing for extended periods at a time. She requested to be able to sit occasionally while serving as People Greeter for Wal-Mart. After her request to her employer, Mrs. Rehberg was released from her position. On June 21, 2001 The Arizona District Court Judge William D. Browning ordered Wal-Mart to pay sanctions totaling $750,200 for violating key rules that they agreed upon with the EEOC and the Arizona Center for Disability law.

The EEOC has won several verdicts with Wal-Mart in disability discrimination lawsuits. In Albuquerque NM a man confined to a wheelchair was awarded $3.5 million in damages because Wal-Mart refused to hire him as a cashier. In another case a jury awarded $157,500 to an applicant turned down for employment because he had an amputated arm. All of these lawsuits were because Wal-Mart stores failed to follow Title I of the ADA. This law prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against disabilities with application procedures, hiring, discharge, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms and conditions to their employment.

As a manager I was aware of some of the discrimination laws, but not that they were this extreme, with such severe consequences. There are two ways that I look at this law. The first being, that I do not think it is right to discriminate against anyone no matter what their age, race, or handicap. The second, as awful as it may sound, is that people will use this law for their favor. There are people in this world that will use anything they can to make a dollar. Look at most of the bigger lawsuits, they are against most all of the bigger recognized names. This is mostly because people know that it will pay off in the end.

With the lawsuit that Mrs. Rehberg had with Wal-Mart I also look at it from many different points of view. I think we all know that People Greeters at Wal-Mart stand the duration of their job. So in the beginning she should have informed her employer that this was something she was unable to do, but if she was truly unaware of the job requirements, then the employer should have accommodated her disability. I do not think that this miscommunication justified the verdict that was handed down.

I think that in the hiring process of any position ,the job requirements should be clearly defined, and if you are unable to meet these requirements due to disability or not, you should not be awarded the position. In my opinion this is not discrimination, obviously the employers just want the most qualified candidate. I do not think this should be labeled as discrimination. As a production manager of a manufacturing plant I am able to hire people for many different positions. I do not look at anyone’s skin color, size, gender, or any disability that may be unfortunate to have. I simply look for the candidate that has the qualifications I am looking for and that will get the job done.

In writing this paper I am not trying to seem prejudice or racists in any way. I do feel for people with any handicap that may prohibit them from feeling normal, and I do not think it is right to discriminate in any way. I do however think that the law is often abused and plays into the favor of a lot of dishonest people looking to make that extra buck!

References:

http://www.eeoc.gov/press/6-21-01.html