As we reported on February 4, 2005, a Wal-Mart employee with cerebral palsy had sued Wal-Mart in 2002 for discrimination against the disabled under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, and today it was announced that the jury in this case ordered Wal-Mart to pony up $7.5 million. Patrick Brady, 21, who was hired in the pharmacy store at the Centereach, Long Island Wal-Mart, soon found himself reassigned to corraling shopping carts in the parking lot. The U.S. District Court jury only needed one day to reach their verdict, finding Wal-Mart guilty of discriminating against Brady by transferring him, and by asking him impermissible questions on a pre-employment questionaire. Wal-Mart was ordered to compensate Brady for $5 million in punitive damages, and $2.5 million in compensatory damages. Brady’s lawyer said the $5 million punitive fine was likely to be substantially reduced to the $600,000 federal limit on punitive awards. Quicker than you can say “disability discrimination always,” Wal-Mart announced that it would appeal the jury verdict. The Associated Press quoted Wal-Mart as saying, “We appreciate the service of the jurors but disagree with their decision. We feel very strongly that Mr. Brady did not suffer discrimination in our store.”
I am trying to remember a single case where Wal-Mart was found guilty of discrmination and accepted it without an appeal. This case will drag on several more years in the courts. Wal-Mart has had a revolving door relationship with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. For earlier stories about Wal-Mart’s record of discrimination against the disabled, search this database by “EEOC” or by “disabled.” In a case against two deaf workers, Wal-Mart asked illegal questions in a pre-application process. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if Wal-Mart would just once agree that it’s people made a mistake, and not make the victim fight them for years. As Wal-Mart CEO Chairman Lee Scott said this week: “We’ve got nothing to apologize for.” That’s pretty much the company’s credo.