U.S. Attorney’s Office Scores Settlement from Walmart
Retailer agrees to amend employment policies to improve protections for military members

by Tony Flesor

The Department of Justice announced Jan. 7 it had reached a settlement with Walmart for alleged employment discrimination against a Colorado naval reservist, leading to nationwide changes in the company’s employment policies.

In a lawsuit filed against Walmart Oct. 30, Naval Petty Officer Lindsey Hunger claimed the retailer denied her a job due to her military commitments, thereby violating her rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, or USERRA. Hunger was represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

In the Walmart settlement, the company agreed to pay Hunger $16,000, which includes $8,000 in back pay and another $8,000 allowed under a USERRA provision that doubles the award for “willful” violations.

The company also agreed to review its hiring practices and revise its employment policies to state that “Walmart prohibits discrimination against individuals, including applicants, based on their military service (including required military training obligations) or membership in the uniformed services.” The version of the policy in place when Hunger applied prohibited discrimination based on “veteran status,” according to the lawsuit.

“For them to include that on a nationwide level was important for us and I think will serve members of our military well,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said of the hiring policy changes at the country’s biggest private employer.

Through its military programs, Walmart has hired hundreds of thousands of veterans, military personnel and their spouses over the past decade, according to the company’s website.

In May 2016, Hunger applied for several open positions at a Walmart store in Grand Junction, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.