The Maine Human Rights Commission announced Monday it had found Walmart violated civil rights when it failed to accommodate a longtime Skowhegan employee because of his disability.
The Kennebec Journal reports the commission ruled that the Skowhegan store’s management violated the Maine Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act in discontinuing the set work schedule of Michael Morin, who has an intellectual disability.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Tuesday that Walmart is reviewing the decision “and will respond as appropriate.”
“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and we readily accommodate associates with disabilities. When our stores’ needs change, we often adjust associate schedules to meet those demands and our decision here was based on legitimate business needs. We’re sensitive to this situation and have attempted to resolve Mr. Morin’s claim,” he said.
Morin worked for the company for nearly two decades as a cart attendant, earning raises and positive assessments of his work. But in 2019, as the company moved to a new computerized scheduling system, officials decided they could no longer continue Morin’s schedule.
He unsuccessfully appealed that decision to Walmart and, after other appeals were unsuccessful, Morin filed a complaint with the commission. Kristin Aiello, senior attorney at Disability Rights Maine and Morin’s lawyer, called the change “a blatant violation of the ADA and the Maine Human Rights Act.”
“Walmart’s position in this case — that modification for one employee means ‘modification for all’ — is the antithesis of the ADA, which requires individualized assessment and provision of reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities, barring undue hardship,” Aiello said in a prepared statement.
Employers can, under the ADA, deny requests for reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual with a disability if doing so creates an undue burden. Aiello said the commission found Morin’s request does not fit that criteria.
Under the Maine Human Rights Act, the commission will offer its
conciliation process to help resolve the case. If that fails, Morin may file a lawsuit within 9o days.