Published Date: 07/14/2014
By John Gupton
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this month filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., alleging that the company fired an intellectually disabled employee at a Rockford, Illinois Wal-Mart store after it rescinded his workplace accommodation.
The EEOC is alleging that Wal-Mart rescinded a long-standing practice of giving written job assignments to the employee, who had an intellectual disability. The EEOC said that the accommodation had been the key to allowing the employee to successfully perform his job during an 18 year career at Wal-Mart and to his meeting the company’s performance expectations. The EEOC further alleged that shortly after rescinding the accommodation Wal-Mart began disciplining the employee for performance issues and that ultimately led to his termination. The EEOC is seeking financial damages and injunctive relief against Wal-Mart.
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities include those who have impairments that substantially limit a major life activity, have a record (or history) of a substantially limiting impairment, or are regarded as having a disability. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to enable applicants and employees with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities unless doing so would be an undue hardship
An intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior that affect many everyday social and practical skills. According to the EEOC, an individual is generally diagnosed as having an intellectual disability when:
(1) the person’s intellectual functioning level (IQ) is below 70-75;
(2) the person has significant limitations in adaptive skill areas as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical skills; and
(3) the disability originated before the age of 18.
“Adaptive skill areas” refer to basic skills needed for everyday life. They include communication, self care, home living, social skills, leisure, health and safety, self direction, functional academics (reading, writing, basic math), and work. Individuals with severe intellectual disabilities are more likely to have additional limitations than persons with milder intellectual disabilities.
Further information about the EEOC and the laws it enforces is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.