Court Dismisses Wal-Mart Disability Case

News

Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court announced its decision on Monday to dismiss a case brought against Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores by an employee who alleged that the retailer had discriminated against her after she was disabled in an on-the-job accident.

The court said the case was dismissed under Rule 46.1, which provides for dismissals when both parties agree to settle a dispute. The justices had said they would consider the case Dec. 7, and oral arguments were expected to take place this spring. The Supreme Court did not provide additional details.

At issue in the case was how far employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must go to accommodate disabled employees. This particular employee, Pam Huber, was injured in April 2001 while employed as an order filler in a Wal-Mart distribution center in Clarksville, Ark. She applied for a different position at equivalent pay, but didn't get the job.

Wal-Mart said in court papers that it hired a more qualified employee. Huber was later given a job at about half the hourly wage she earned as an order filler.

Huber sued in June 2004, arguing that under ADA rules, she only had to be qualified for the equivalent position, not the most qualified, and should have been reassigned to the job with equivalent pay.

A federal court in Arkansas ruled in favor of Huber, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis, reversed and sided with Wal-Mart.

The ADA "only requires Wal-Mart to allow Huber to compete for the job, but the statute does not require Wal-Mart to turn away a superior applicant," the appeals court said.