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Jury orders Walmart to pay $125 million in EEOC lawsuit

The exterior of a Walmart store in Salinas, Calif. Walmart was ordered Friday to pay more than $125 million in a disability lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
The exterior of a Walmart store in Salinas, Calif. Walmart was ordered Friday to pay more than $125 million in a disability lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

July 16 (UPI) -- A Wisconsin jury ordered Walmart to pay $125.15 million on three claims of disability discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday, but the retailer is disputing the amount.

The jury found that Walmart failed to accommodate Marlo Spaeth, who has Down syndrome, in 2015 when they changed her scheduled and she struggled to adjust. Walmart fired her instead of returning her to a schedule she was able to work, the EEOC said.

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The jury awarded Spaeth $150,000 in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages.

"The substantial jury verdict in this case sends a strong message to employers that disability discrimination is unacceptable in our nation's workplaces," EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. "All of those who come forward to ensure the right to a workplace free of discrimination do a service to our nation."

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told CNBC the company tried to resolve the matter with the EEOC but their requirements "were unreasonable." Hargrove said the company was trying to decide what options it has.

Hargrove said that, according to the EEOC's website, the limit for such payouts is $300,000 for companies like Walmart, and he expects the jury reward to be reduced.

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