Walmart Inc. has agreed to pay a former Augusta worker $80,000 in back wages and change its national policies to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the settlement, which was approved by U.S. District Court in Bangor on Thursday, Walmart must offer a qualified disabled worker a job reassignment to a vacant position in up to five nearby stores, not just the employee’s so-called home store.

The settlement stemmed from an EEOC lawsuit filed on behalf of Veronica Resendez, a cashier who was working at the Augusta store when she developed stenosis of the spine and bone degeneration. She sought reassignment to an open greeter or fitting room job in January 2013.

But there were no open greeter or fitting room jobs at the Augusta store. Three months passed. She offered to move to the the Rockland or Waterville stores. Two fitting room jobs became available in Waterville, and one in Thomaston, but Walmart did not offer her any of those positions.

Resendez was fired in March 2014 and hasn’t worked for Walmart since.

“Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation required by law absent undue hardship,” said Kevin Berry, director of the EEOC’s regional office. “This case demonstrates that looking beyond the home store for a vacation position is not an undue hardship.”

Walmart said it was pleased to resolve the matter and wished Resendez well.

“We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind,” spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “We’ve been a top employer for people with disabilities for many years and have thousands of associates who perform their jobs with reasonable accommodation, including job reassignment.”

Walmart plans to roll out a program to all of its U.S. stores by February that lets hourly associates search other stores in their area for a job they can perform. The company had been testing the program out “well before the settlement,” Hargrove said.


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