Ex-Walmart Worker Says Retail Giant Failed to Accommodate Disabilities

(CN) – A 48-year-old man diagnosed with intellectual development disorder claims in court he was fired Walmart after it reneged on a promise to train him to use a new computerized time-keeping system at his story.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Alexandria, Va., John Heeter says he began working at the Fairfax, Va. Walmart in 1994, having been referred by Didlake Inc., an organization that connects adults with disabilities to prospective employers.

Heeter, who resides in a group home in Herndon, Va., says Walmart was informed of his condition when he was hired, and was told the accommodations he would need to perform his duties.

Among those accommodations was providing Heeter with computer-based learning modules. After each module, Heeter was required to log a minimum score. Per the rules, a human resources representative at Walmart was responsible to help employees like Heeter complete the test should they need it.

Heeter says the accommodations Walmart provided worked well for him until early 2016, when his store changed to a new computerized time-keeping system and the human resources rep who usually helped him was also replaced.

Heeter says as a result of the changes he failed to clock-in correctly on 19 different occasions, but nobody ever told him of this until the day he was fired.

“Walmart did not offer Mr. Heeter the level of training and assistance needed for him to be able to log in and use the new computerized management system properly,” the complaint says. “[He] was also not provided with any warnings that he was clocking in or out improperly, or that he was using the … program incorrectly — which a supervisor could have detected by reviewing [his] time and attendance records —  so, Mr. Heeter did not know he needed to ask for help.”

According to the complaint, staffers from Didlake, as well as Heeter’s own mother, stopped into the Walmart on various occasions to check in.

Didlake supervisors received only positive reviews about Heeter’s performance during their visits from February to August 2016, the lawsuit says.

Heeter claims that when his mother came in to sign him out for a few days of vacation last September, no Walmart employees or supervisors made any mention that Heeter was having trouble clocking in.

Then a month later, he was fired without warning, severance or explanation.

Heeter seeks unspecified compensatory damages and punitive damages. He also seeks injunctive relief ordering Walmart to establish and maintain a disability sensitivity training program for staff.

Heeter is represented by attorney Carla Brown of Charlson Bredehoft Cohen and Brown of Reston, Va.

Ragan Dickens, director of national media relations for the chain responded for comment on Friday morning.

“We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind and have thousands of associates who perform their job duties everyday with reasonable accommodations. While we have not yet been served, we take Mr. Heeter’s claims seriously and will respond appropriately with the court.”

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