Wal-Mart Suit Can Move Forward, Judge Says
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 28, 2004
WILTON, MAINE--A woman's employment discrimination suit against Wal-Mart may proceed, a federal judge has ruled.
Joanne DiDonna filed suit against the retail giant claiming the store in Farmington, Maine violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act by failing to accommodate her disability, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported Wednesday.
DiDonna, 46, began working as a universal product code associate for Wal-Mart in January 1993. Four years later, she started noticing symptoms of muscular dystrophy. By 2000 she was experiencing weakness in her legs, shoulders and arms, and was having difficulty walking or standing for longer than 15 minutes at a time.
That year, Wal-Mart decided to consolidate two positions, one of which belonged to DiDonna. The manager gave the new job to another employee that did not have a disability, even though Wal-Mart's own policy states that when two candidates are qualified for a position, priority is to go to the employee with a disability.
Wal-Mart did offer DiDonna other positions -- including cashier, accounting office and team leader positions -- none of which she could perform, even with accommodations. She eventually resigned and decided to file suit.
DiDonna went to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which upheld her position and referred the matter to private counsel for litigation. She also got help from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued a right to sue letter.
Wal-Mart denied DiDonna's allegations and asked the federal judge, who was not named in the article, to grant a summary judgment. The judge denied Wal-Mart's request, thereby allowing DiDonna's lawsuit to proceed.