There are various labor laws and regulations that prevent businesses from denying someone employment based on the individual’s protected characteristic. When an employer violates these guidelines, the employer can be forced to pay the victim the wages that they would have earned and provide the victim employee with other remedies.

A Walmart location in Colorado faced a lawsuit and criticism for refusing to hire a potential employee because she would need leave time for training in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Woman in U.S. Navy is denied employment at Walmart due to military commitments

The incident began when the victim attempted to apply for employment at a Walmart store in Grand Junction, Colorado in 2016. The company later informed her that she would not be hired because the company did not want to give her two weeks off for her scheduled upcoming naval training.

The lawsuit stated that she is a single mother raising two children and did not have the means available to find any other employment at the time. The case also alleged that she was specifically denied employment, in violation of federal law, due to commitments with the Naval Reserve where she would need time away from the job. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits employers from engaging in this kind of discrimination and related forms of mistreatment against military members.

In the settlement that concluded the lawsuit, Walmart agreed to revise their discrimination policies to include language that prohibits discrimination against active duty military members or discrimination based on membership or affiliation with any military branch. They also agreed to train current store managers and supervisors in accordance with these new policies that recognize certain additional rights and obligations for military service members. Many of these protections were already required under federal statutes, but Walmart has agreed to implement additional training to reinforce their duties as an employer in compliance with federal law.

The U.S. attorney from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, who represented the plaintiff military member in this case, commented that Walmart’s agreement to amend its employment policies will have a lasting impact on Walmart and other companies. This precedent should help active duty military service members and veterans find and maintain suitable employment.

In addition to the other terms of the settlement, the victim will receive back pay for wages she would have received if Walmart had initially offered her employment.

A Walmart spokesperson said he found the allegations to be disturbing and that Walmart’s legal department would correct any deficiencies in their policies. Walmart issued a statement saying they remain committed to hiring more military members and veterans than any other employer in the United States. They also expressed gratitude to the Department of Justice for working with them to update their policies in accordance with relevant discrimination laws.

Prohibited forms of discrimination

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees for a number of protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, or national origin. Different state and federal rules and remedies apply depending on whether the employer is in the private sector, public sector, or is a government entity. A lawyer who focuses on labor issues will be able to guide you through the proper procedure for initiating a lawsuit or making a claim.

As this news story shows, some of these protections can also be extended to employees based on membership in the military or other organizations. If you have lost or been denied employment for any unfair reason, you should contact a labor and employment attorney right away and tell them your story. As cases like this become a part of established law, workers are given stronger protections that will ultimately result in a more inclusive workforce.

Proving discrimination against an employer in a civil case

A crucial issue in determining whether discrimination occurred is whether the employer had a legitimate reason to deny employment or terminate an employee. Legitimate business reasons usually include problems such as tardiness, missed time from work without authorization, theft from the company, or violating company policies. If such factors, or factors similar to those previously identified, are present, it is likely that the business may be discriminating against the employee in violation of state and/or federal laws.

Employees who are victims of discrimination should retain any employment related documents, such as written warnings, agreements, and employee policies, or employer communications, such as emails, text messages, or recordings, and other records that may reflect illegitimate reasons for ending their employment. These documents and communications may become crucial evidence later on, during the litigation process.

Get help from a labor attorney in your area

To learn more about discrimination cases and other areas of employment law, contact Anderson Barkley, LLC. They serve the greater Denver metropolitan area, and have years of experience representing clients in all types of labor and employment matters.