NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A New York jury ordered Wal-Mart to pay $7.5 million in damages to a disabled former employee in a class-action lawsuit in which he claimed the retailer unfairly reassigned him to garbage duty even though he was hired to work in the pharmacy department.So it breaks down like this: If you take a chance by hiring a disabled person for a skilled job, it doesn’t work out, and you let him go, you’ll get sued. If you transfer him to a less-skilled job, you’ll still get sued. If you hire him for the less-skilled job in the first place, you probably will not get sued. And if you make a point of hiring only people you know can do the job (possibly mildly disabled people in order to guard against a class-action suit), you will reduce your chance of lawsuits. If you hire just enough disabled to people to fill a quota, but no more, that will also help thwart lawsuits.
The plaintiff, 21-year-old Long Island resident Patrick Brady, suffers from cerebral palsy. According to the plaintiff's attorney Douglas Wigdor, Brady applied for a position in the pharmacy unit of a Wal-Mart store in Centereach, NY. and was hired in the summer of 2002.
But Brady, who worked for just four days before he quit, claimed he was soon reassigned to other responsibilities that included collecting garbage and shopping carts in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Incentives matter, folks.
(Incidentally, I don’t know any actual figures, but I’ve seen a disproportionately large number of disabled people working at Wal-Mart.)