Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Appeals court says discrimination suit can proceed

February 15, 2007

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— The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can continue its disability discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., according to an appeals court ruling Tuesday.

The EEOC filed the suit in January 2004 claiming that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to hire a western Missouri man who has cerebral palsy.

In August 2005, a federal judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted summary judgment to Wal-Mart, saying that the EEOC didn't present sufficient evidence in favor of Steven J. Bradley Jr. The EEOC appealed, which led to Tuesday's ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Bradley, who uses crutches and a wheelchair, tried to get a job at a Wal-Mart in Richmond, about 40 miles northeast of Kansas City but was not hired.

"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind anywhere in our operations," said Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley on Wednesday. "Our decision not to hire Mr. Bradley had nothing to do with his disability. But because the matter is in litigation, it wouldn't be appropriate to provide further comment."

Robert Johnson, regional attorney of the EEOC's St. Louis District, said Wednesday that the commission is looking forward to taking the matter to trial and having a jury determine whether Bradley encountered discrimination.

"The Eighth Circuit decided it's up to the jury to decide those factual issues, including whether Wal-Mart had covered up its discrimination," Johnson said.

No new court dates have been set, he said.

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