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Front of Walmart store

Wal-Mart Sued for Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Disability Discrimination

The American Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a shocking press release on April 10th on behalf of Jamie Wells, who was the victim of sexual harassment, retaliation, and disability discrimination while working for the mega retail chain in one of its Cleveland stores.

Jamie worked for Wal-Mart for eleven years.  From April 2005 through to January 7, 2011, the store allowed a male coworker to sexually harass Wells.  Store management was aware of the harassment and failed to take prompt or effective action.  Catastrophically, she was fired three weeks after she complained about the abusive conduct.

Front of Walmart store
Photo by Walmart Corporate on Flickr

Further charges being brought against Wal-Mart is an alleged failure to support Jamie through the store’s policies and procedures for harassment and sexual misconduct.

“Ms. Wells’ impairment made her particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment,” said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio.  “Once this Wal-Mart was put on notice of the harassment, it had a legal responsibility to take immediate and appropriate action to stop the misconduct.  When an employer fails to do so, the EEOC must and will hold that employer accountable.”

I’m appalled that any supervisor could shut their eyes to this kind of horrific workplace action.  Jamie may be a vulnerable person, but she is a woman, an employee, and a member of her community, just like me. Shame on her employer for not treating her with the respect she deserved!

I’m a member of the up-and-coming generation of business graduates. I want to grow into the kind of manager I see in the disability field. The many fierce men and women I’ve seen foster independence, growth, and courage and who’ve mentored me into the young woman I am today.  Wal-Mart should be hiring you, my respected colleagues, to reevaluate their supervisor training programs.

I’d also like to see Wal-Mart hire one (or two, or three!) of the many amazing advocates the U.S. has to offer. CQL, People First, and innumerable other advocacy organizations could offer the kind of support and education this particular store needs to become an inclusive and empowered environment.

I’ll keep you posted as the lawsuit progresses.  Advocates unite!


Inclusion Blog Post

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