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Employment Law Alert: Eighth Circuit Says Wal-Mart Did Not Violate The ADA By Rejecting Disabled Job Candidate In Favor Of More Qualified, Non-Disabled One

In Huber v. Wal-Mart, the Eighth Circuit reversed summary judgment that had been granted in the plaintiff’s favor on her claim that she should have been awarded an open position as a reasonable accommodation, rather than having to compete for the position with other qualified candidates. Noting that this was a question of first impression for that Circuit, the Eighth Circuit held that “the ADA is not a mandatory preference act” and that it “does not require an employer to reassign a qualified disabled employee to a vacant position when such reassignment would violate a legitimate nondiscriminatory policy of the employer to hire the most qualified candidate.” In reaching this result, the Eighth Circuit agreed with the Seventh Circuit, and disagreed with the Tenth Circuit. The result is also in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. Airways v. Barnett, in which the high court held that employers are not required to ignore established seniority systems in accommodating disabled workers.

Bottom Line

This case is obviously a very good result for employers, since it recognizes their right to seek out the most qualified candidate for a position, even if it means denying the position to a minimally qualified disabled employee.



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