Robert Belfante used to work at the Wal-Mart distribution center in southeast Hernando County, Fl. In 1995, he asked the company to give him a transfer to a Sam’s Club closer to his home in Clearwater. Robert, 32, suffers from cystic fibrosis. He claims the job he wanted at the Sam’s Club in Clearwater was basically the same job he had at the Hernando distribution center. According to a 5 page complaint, Wal-Mart supervisors initially told Robert that a transfer to peform the forklift operator job was no problem. He was asked to send his personnel file, which included his medial records, to the Sam’s Club in Clearwater. When Robert went to Clearwater to meet with the Club’s director, he was told that if any positions came open, he would be contacted. A week later, Robert saw an advertisement for the position he had inquired about. He went to talk to the Sam’s Club representatives, who told him he was qualified for the job, and that the transfer could happen quickly. Robert claims that the store director then pulled aside the store manager for a conference. When the store manager returned, he told Robert there were no positions available. Robert’s lawsuit says he was denied the job because of his disability. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission determined that Robert’s evidence in this case “established a vioilation of the Americans with Disabilities Act”. Robert’s lawyer, Louis Kwall, says Wal-Mart “told us they’d look into our claim and get back to us, but they never did. In my experience, Wal-Mart traditionally defends these (cases) to the death.” Since cystic fibrosis is potentially a fatal disease, Robert’s lawyer may be literally correct.
For further information, go to the St Petersburg Times website, an article from October 2, 1998.