Appeals court rules against Walmart in Disability lawsuit
July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest U.S. private employer, lost its appeal of a jury verdict in a discrimination case and was ordered to pay $900,000 in damages.
A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel in New York refused to throw out a 2006 ruling that upheld part of a $7.5 million award to a worker who claimed Wal-Mart gave him a less-desirable job because he had cerebral palsy.
``I hope this finally sends a message that they can't treat disabled people as second-class citizens,'' Douglas Wigdor, an attorney for plaintiff Patrick Brady, said in a phone interview.
A New York jury in February 2005 awarded Brady $7.5 million in damages, including $5 million in punitive damages. U.S. District Judge James Orenstein in Central Islip, New York, cut the punitive amount to the legal limit of $300,000 under the American with Disabilities Act and in October 2006 trimmed the compensatory damages to $600,000, citing a state law.
Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, denied discriminating against disabled workers.
``We believe in respecting the dignity of every individual and do not tolerate any form of discrimination,'' spokeswoman Daphne Moore said in a phone interview.
Brady said he was hired in 2002 as a pharmacy clerk in the Wal-Mart store in Centereach, New York, and transferred on his second day to a job picking up garbage and collecting shopping carts in the parking lot because a manager said he was too slow.
Wal-Mart said Brady worked at the cart-pushing job for two or three hours before he was transferred to the food department, to a position equal to a pharmacy clerk. Wal-Mart said the job change wasn't ``material'' because Brady's pay wasn't cut.
The judge ruled the jury was justified in concluding Wal- Mart recklessly or willfully disregarded the requirements of the law. He said the move to a less prestigious job could be considered a demotion and the initial transfer caused Brady emotional distress.
Wal-Mart fell 53 cents to $56.50 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have risen 19 percent this year.
The case on appeal is Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 06-5486, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (New York).
To contact the reporter on this story: Liane Kufchock in Southfield, Michigan, at email@example.com.
I challenge someone to defend this case on the merits.
Why should someone get $900,000, when:
they didn't lose pay.there isn't any argument that they weren't "slow" at the hired job.
there isn't any evidence that they were treated differently because of their disability.
Why should shoppers at Walmart have to pay him $900,000.
That is who will pay the lawsuit bill. We the shoppers.
This is a good example of why Democrats should support tort reform.
here is a hypothetical case that should be sought:
A group of customers complain about having to deal with a disabled clerk. There is no demonstrable difference in service. The store removes clerk because of complaints with no evidence of bad work performance.
The essence of the law against non-discrimination is that we should treat everyone alike. Well, people who are slow or not productive on a particular job get transferred to another job or fired.
Unless I'm missing something, which I will gladly acknowledge, this political correctness that will cost Walmart shoppers bigtime.