Wal-mart destroys evidence in discrimination case
A judge in the US has sanctioned Wal-Mart for destroying evidence in a employee discrimination case.
The judge also ordered that a jury hearing a discrimination case against the company can presume store supervisors retaliated against an employee who had been sacked after he complained of discrimination.
US online paper The Daily Reporter states that U.S. District Judge Steve Jones also directed that Wal-Mart must reimburse attorneys representing former employee Ibrahim Abdulahi $19,980 for their expenses in seeking the sanctions.
The judge also stated that a workers' supervisor and store manager had demonstrated bad faith in failing to preserve a CCTV tape that could have shed light on what Wal-Mart claims was the basis for Abdulahi's termination.
The recording would have shown whether Abdulahi failed to lock the gates to the store's garden centre overnight. Jackson has said he fired Abdulahi for leaving the gates unlocked—a contention that Abdulahi has vehemently denied.
"The video footage," Jones wrote, "is relevant evidence, and the footage has practical importance in terms of [Abdulahi's] ability to prove retaliation."
Abdulahi initial claim said that he became the target of ethnic harassment by a white assistant manager. Abdulahi said the assistant manager repeatedly mocked his accent, acting as if he could not understand him despite the plaintiff's "clear and fluent English," according to the suit.
It also contests that the assistant manager—who supervised Abdulahi— also began expressing dissatisfaction with Abdulahi's work, routinely belittling him in front of other store employees, the suit says. The store manager at that time, prompted by a complaint from Abdulahi, eventually directed the assistant manager to apologise. But after that manager departed in 2009 and was replaced by Jackson, the assistant manager reverted to his old habits of making belittling comments to Abdulahi and addressing him in "a condescending manner," according to the suit. A second assistant manager, also white, soon joined in the mockery, according to Abdulahi's suit.
He was also asked to resign and received negative performance reviews before eventually being fired after he made a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
After reviewing Abdulahi's complaints, the EEOC in 2012 found reasonable cause to conclude that Wal-Mart had subjected Abdulahi to "unwanted ethnic and age-based harassment" and, in a series of instances, had discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin and age. The agency also held that Wal-Mart had retaliated against Abdulahi by firing him after he formally objected to the harassment. According to Abdulahi's complaint, the EEOC attempted to resolve the dispute through its conciliation process before Abdulahi filed suit, but those efforts failed.
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