• The lawsuit accused Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Arkansas-based Walmart said it was reviewing the complaint
  • This comes months after Walmart was sued for firing employee with Down syndrome

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued Walmart for refusing to grant disability-related leaves to a North Carolina employee with Crohn's disease and then firing her.

The EEOC filed a complaint in a Charlotte federal court, accusing Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of deli employee Adrian Tucker, according to Charlotte Observer.

The Walmart store located in Statesville "violated federal law when it refused to excuse an employee's disability-related leave and discharged her," the EEOC said in a lawsuit filed Monday.

The lawsuit pointed out that on several occasions between November 2016 and April 2017, Walmart refused to provide reasonable accommodation to the deli associate suffering from Crohn's disease. She had also requested the store to transfer her to a position that could allow her to stay closer to a bathroom, CNBC reported.

Crohn's disease is a chronic bowel condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It can result in abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and even malnutrition.

While Walmart approved some of the employee's disability-related absences, it didn't excuse others including those for medical appointments and hospitalization.

Tucker worked at Walmart starting February 2014 until she was fired in April 2017 for "incurring unexcused absences exceeding the number of absences allowed under company policy," even though she submitted doctor's notes.

The EEOC is now seeking monetary relief from Walmart for Tucker, including back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The agency also "seeks injunctive relief against the company to end any ongoing discrimination and to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future."

Meanwhile, Arkansas-based Walmart said it was reviewing the complaint.

"We have been a top employer for those with disabilities for years and have thousands of associates who perform their jobs with reasonable accommodation," a spokesperson for Walmart said in a statement, as per CNBC. "We don't tolerate discrimination of any kind and take allegations like this seriously. We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in court as appropriate once we are served."

This lawsuit comes months after Walmart was sued by EEOC for firing an employee with Down syndrome. A Wisconsin federal court judge determined in 2021 that Walmart wrongfully fired sales associate Marlo Spaeth who has Down syndrome over schedule-related issues and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Spaeth worked at a Wisconsin Supercenter for nearly 16 years before she was fired.

After a four-day trial, the jury awarded Spaeth more than $125 million in damages. However, it was later reduced to $300,000, the maximum limit allowed under the law.

Walmart has more than 10,000 retail units across 20 countries and e-commerce platforms. As of the end of FY2023, the company has employed more than 2.1 million associates worldwide, with nearly 1.6 million employees working in the U.S., according to its official website.

Amid the ongoing layoff spree in several sectors in the U.S., Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, asked hundreds of workers at five of its e-commerce facilities to find jobs within 90 days at other company locations. Last week, about 200 workers in different locations such as New Jersey and Texas were asked to find another job in view of a reduction or elimination of shifts across the Walmart facilities.

"We recently adjusted staffing levels at our [fulfillment centers] in select markets to better prepare for the future needs of customers," Walmart said in a statement accessed by Reuters. "This decision was not made lightly, and we're working closely with affected associates to help them understand what career options may be available at other Walmart locations."

Walmart store in Encinitas, California