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Morristown NJ man suing Wal-Mart for bias

Job applicant claims Cedar Knolls store disregarded disability
By Abbott Koloff, Daily Record

A Morristown man is suing Wal-Mart, saying the company discriminated against him by failing to accommodate his disability when he applied for a job.

The lawsuit, filed in Morris County Superior Court Monday, claims Jason Walker, of Morristown, was told he would not be given an opportunity to work at Wal-Mart in Cedar Knolls after he was unable to take a drug test. The suit claims Walker has kidney problems, is on dialysis, and was unable to take a standard drug test that requires a urine sample.

A store representative asked for a note from Walker's doctor, the suit says. When Walker said he could not get a note until the next regular working day, according to the suit, he was told he would not be hired and to reapply in about a year.

The suit claims that Wal-Mart violated New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination.

"The law requires accommodation not only for employees, but applicants," John McDonnell, a Morristown attorney representing Walker, said Monday.

Tom Williams, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said he could not comment on the case until corporate attorneys review it. Attorneys have not yet had time to do that, he said. He also would not discuss Wal-Mart's policies regarding disabled employees and applicants until attorneys examine the lawsuit.

McDonnell described his client as a young man, in his early 20's, whose medical condition does not allow him to take a standard drug test. He said the law requires companies to provide alternative methods of giving such tests as long as there's "no undue hardship on the employer."

"They can't just not hire you because of a disability," he said.

The suit asks for compensatory and punitive damages, including pay Walker might have received had he been hired.

Walker, according to the suit, applied for job as a sales associate last October and was sent to a medical testing facility for a drug and alcohol test.

"Upon arrival, plaintiff was informed that he had to provide a urine sample as part of the screening process," the suit says, "Plaintiff told the nurse at the facility that his medical condition precluded him from urinating."

A Wal-Mart representative later advised Walker to get a doctor's note and bring it to the store the following day, a Friday. Walker told the representative that he couldn't get a note until Monday, according to the suit.

"Upon hearing this, defendant's representative advised plaintiff that plaintiff could not be hired and that plaintiff could reapply in a year," the suit said.

The suit claims that a physician did fax a letter to the store, although it's not clear when that happened. McDonnell said in court papers that the store failed to hire his client because of his disability "by failing to allow plaintiff to utilize alternative testing procedures during the drug/alcohol screening process."