The New York Times reported that Marlo Spaath will receive $125 million in compensation for being unfairly dismissed from her job.
Marlowe, who suffers from Down syndrome, works at Walmart, doing a job folding towels, cleaning aisles, greeting customers and handling returns.
“Over her 15 years of service, she has received several pay increases and received positive performance reviews,” her lawyer said.
One manager also praised her performance, saying that she “has been great with clients”.
While another described her as a very friendly person, expressing his happiness to work with her.
Her working hours changed abruptly in November 2014, when the company she works for created a computerized scheduling system, which the company says is based on customer traffic and is designed to ensure enough people are working when the store is most crowded.
While Marlowe was expected to work from 1 pm to 5:30 pm, instead of her previous schedule from noon until 4:00 pm.
But the sudden change made it difficult for Marlowe, whose lawyer asserted she has Down syndrome and thrives on routine, so she has repeatedly tried to restore her old schedule.
According to court records, Amy Jo Stevenson, the sister and guardian of Marlowe, told the company director that she was afraid to miss the bus, and that she was afraid to miss dinner, which was very annoying for her. She’s feeling sick, and she can’t handle it, so we desperately need to get her old work schedule back.”
The company responded with a refusal, and has twice taken “disciplinary action” against Marlowe for absenteeism and tardiness at the store, which was open 24 hours a day and employed more than 300 employees.
Over time, the company fired Marlowe on July 10, 2015, for what it described as excessive absenteeism.
Subsequently, Marlowe, her mother and her sister met with the company’s managers, and asked to re-hire her, and allow her to return to the old work schedule, but the company refused to re-hire her, even though her termination letter said she could be hired again, according to her lawyer.
Then Marlowe sued the company.
Following the lawsuit, a jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on employee disability, and awarded Marlowe $125 million in punitive damages, and $150,000 in damages and loss.
While the company stated that the judgment would be reduced to $300,000, the maximum allowed under a federal compensation law.
Source: “The New York Times”