David Moorman isn't old, at least not by any modern standard. The Fort Worth man is in his mid-50s, still nearly a decade away from reaching Medicare eligibility, still in command of all his faculties, and he still has several years of productive employment ahead of him.
According to the federal government, that wasn't enough to keep Walmart from firing him. On Wednesday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the retail giant, saying that its 2011 termination of Moorman was illegal, violating federal age- and disability-discrimination laws.
Moorman worked in regional management for Walmart. The lawsuit doesn't delve into his job description, but his LinkedIn profile says he "managed all day to day operations of $30/40 million retail grocery stores" and oversaw grocery operations for 10 North Texas supercenters.
The complaint says that Moorman, who was 54 at the time he was fired, was frequently harassed by his immediate boss, market manager Teddy Martyniuk. "Among other comments and conduct, Martyniuk repeatedly referred to Moorman as 'old man,'" the suit says. Moorman reported the harassment to Walmart's regional human resources manager but was ignored.
The human resources manager also allegedly ignored the request by Moorman and his doctor to reassign him to a less demanding job -- store co-manager or assistant store manager -- to accommodate his February 2011 diabetes diagnosis. Martyniuk ultimately denied Moorman's request and fired him shortly after.
By doing so, the EEOC alleges that Walmart broke two federal laws. The company mistreated him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and it failed to provide reasonable accommodation for his diabetes, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Company spokesman Randy Hargrove says the company "respectfully disagree[s] with the allegations."
"Walmart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We ended Mr. Moorman's performance for job performance issues."
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Moorman was hired at the age of 49 and received a promotion when he was 53, Hargrove notes. And the company did provide accommodation for his diabetes diagnosis in the form of a nine-week leave of absence.
"That's the one accommodation he requested."
This type of lawsuit by the EEOC is relatively rare. Much more often, they issue a "right to sue" letter and let employer and employee duke it out in court, or, if they take a case, settle claims during mediation. In this case, the EEOC says that Walmart refused to correct its "unlawful employment practices" through other means, hence the lawsuit.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.