Sunday, April 10, 2011

Disabled man in Massachusetts sues Wal-mart over firing

From Boston Business Journal:

A developmentally disabled man who for eights years worked handling shopping carts for a Seekonk, Mass., Sam’s Club filed suit against the retailer and parent Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) Thursday, saying he was fired after being treated poorly by a new manager.

Michael Elias brought his complaint in U.S. District Court in Boston after gaining approval to file a suit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the suit states. Elias alleges Wal-Mart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of him.

“(Elias)’s disabilities include speech and language impairments, developmental disabilities, anxiety and learning disabilities,” the suit states. “Certain of (his) disabilities are obvious upon speak/interacting with him and the employers perceived plaintiff as having a disability.”

Before Elias was fired in 2008, the suit states, “a new manager was appointed who made it increasingly difficult for (Elias) to perform the duties of his position and made condescending comments to him that he was a ‘lousy worker’ and ‘not fast enough.’ ”

A co-worker compared Elias to workers without disability, the suit states. Elias’s lawyer argues Elias was fired “because of his disability” and “because (his employer) perceived him as being disabled.”

The suit seeks damages for lost wages and “emotional pain, suffering, humiliation, and mental anguish.”

A Wal-Mart spokesman said he was not in a position to comment on the specifics of the suit, since the company had not yet been served.

But the spokesman, Greg Rossiter, said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant has a long history of working well with disabled people and has been recognized for its efforts by groups that represent disabled individuals.

"We are committed to being an employer and retailer of choice for people with disabilities," he said.

Elias is represented in the matter is Stephen T. Fanning of Providence, R.I.