Monday, February 28, 2005

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

This sounds like a really excellent way to discourage employers from hiring disabled people:
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.

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.
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.

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.)


Anonymous said...

Would you want somebody with cerebral palsy greeting you in your local pharmacy? Who wants to be waited on by someone who is a spastic, can't speak clearly, drools etc. especially when you have questions about the side effects of your own drugs that also might result in slurred speech, drooling, spasms, a heartattack etc. What a frivolous law suit!! Just because they failed to give him an out-of-sight garbage disposal job in the first place is no excuse to punish Wal-mart. Okay so someone in the personal department goofed, but they should be applauded for giving him any old menial job in the first place. He could still be at home watching "I Love Lucy" reruns on tv and watching happy Wal-mart employees kiss the ground they walk on on those booster Wal-mart commercials. What an ingrate and what nerve to sue! If he got hit by a car while collecting shopping carts, how much worse off would he be really? A broken leg maybe? Who cares? Was he really planning on taking a ski trip to Aspen? At those wages? He'd be a blight on the slopes anyway. So I've been told, cripples and retards take pride in their work just like you or I do. But do we have to bear witness to their self-satisfied sense of accomplishment? I don't give a hoot how fast he or she collects grocery carts or picks up the trash. They're dumb and ugly and that's all there is to that! Frankly, I don't give a twit about them. And you shouldn't either! What was the jury thinking?

Anonymous said...

Classy, real classy anon. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are being completely ironic.
and how the hell do you know if his position had anything to do with chemical mixing or direct customer service?
and your parents had to watch you self-satisfied with your accomplishments your whole life. so why the hypocricy?
as sensitive as i am to the less priveledged of society, i do feel that the lawsuit was more of a function of getting a settlement for medical bills since he can't really work. I would guess his family didn't want to be burdened with him in the firstplace and probably the catalyst of the lawsuit.
but there must have been something more to this case. we just see exploitation of walmart on the surface, but who knows?


Anonymous said...

What an asinine comment...I truly hope anonymous up there is kidding because if they're not they're a true A-hole! Where do you or anyone else get off judging and critizing someone who had no control over what they were born with or developed.

Frankly, I love to see people with disablities out in the workforce. They have the right to feel a sense of accomplishment and earn money just like anyone else. And I'm glad that more and more employers are doing the right thing by hiring them no matter how simple their tasks maybe. The point is there's nothing wrong with them wanting to feel was normal as possible and they shoudn't have to stay home and watch "I Love Lucy" in order to avoid possibly disturbing indviduals such as our friend anonymous.

As far as the lawsuit goes, I honestly have to say that the lawsuit does seem frivolous and the damages awarded in this case are extremely excessive for 4 days of work! However we don't know all the details. I just hope it doesn't discourage Wal-Mart or any other employer from providing all individuals an equal employment opportunity. Although unfortunatley, this lawsuit has probably done an excellent job of that already.

Anonymous said...

Glen, don't worry about the legal system disincentivizing employers from hiring the handicapped. Instead, trust the system to provide appropriate balance...


PS Read both articles - how much does it suck to be Christi Gallagher?

from the Wichita Eagle

Posted on Wed, Jan. 21, 2004

Feds allege Wal-Mart discriminated

Associated Press

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., accusing the retailer of refusing to hire a western Missouri man because he has cerebral palsy.

The lawsuit, announced by the EEOC on Tuesday, claims that Wal-Mart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to hire Steven Bradley. The lawsuit claims Wal-Mart would not hire Bradley at a store in Richmond, Mo., about 40 miles northeast of Kansas City, because he has cerebral palsy and uses crutches and a wheelchair.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages and a job for Bradley.

Wal-Mart denied the charges and said it was still reviewing the suit. "Wal-Mart disagrees with the allegations that Mr. Bradley was discriminated against based on his disabilities," said company spokeswoman Christi Gallagher. "Wal-Mart's policy does not tolerate discrimination against associates, or customers for that matter."