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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will reportedly pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a job applicant who claimed he wasn't hired because he has cerebral palsy.
According to the EEOC, Steven J. Bradley Jr. of Hardin, Mo. applied for any available position at a new Wal-Mart Supercenter store in Richmond, Mo., in 2001. Bradley claimed he was questioned during an interview about his ability to work using his wheelchair. He was allegedly told he was "best suited" for a greeter position. Ultimately, he was not hired.
The lawsuit claimed Wal-Mart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2005, a federal judge in Kansas City granted summary judgment to Wal-Mart, saying that the EEOC didn't present sufficient evidence on Bradley's behalf. But last year, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
In addition to the financial settlement, Wal-Mart agreed to provide ADA training to managers at its Richmond store; notify job applicants about the settlement; and inform several Kansas City-area job service agencies that the company seeks to employ qualified persons with disabilities.
A spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart was quoted as saying this was an "isolated situation" that the company wishes had never happened.
Wal-Mart maintains that it is one of the largest employers of persons with disabilities, and that it's committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse work force.
Andrea Baran, the EEOC attorney who handled the case, said Bradley became interested in working at Wal-Mart after seeing TV ads showing disabled employees.