A note from Clay Dugas about the recent victory of Lois Harris vs. Walmart over Age Discrimination:
On Friday, August 29th 2014, justice was finally served to one of my heroes, Lois Harris. A jury found that Lois had been wrongfully fired from Walmart after 24 1/2 years of excellence and dedication. Let me tell you why the jury got it right: Lois handled the claims department in the back of Walmart where she processed damaged and broken merchandise from every department. She saved money for Walmart by taking an average of $100,000 of returned merchandise a month and getting an average return of $98,500! For the 15 years she worked in claims her evaluations were always graded as “exceeds expectations.” Two former assistant managers testified Lois was a “model employee, loyal, dedicated, hardworking, and knowledgable.” In addition she was among the top 5% of employees they had supervised.
Suddenly, when Lois is 63, a new manager (who had been at 20 previous locations) begins to find fault with this superb employee. Walmart has a graduated termination track that begins with a verbal warning and leads to termination after 3 written warnings. Lois didn’t know she had a verbal warning until 2 months later when she got a written warning for mislabeling one address. She never saw or was shown the supposed mistake. Next she received her third warning for keeping a sloppy workplace and mishandling claims. Her supervisor in charge of the the claims department meanwhile was not reprimanded. An unexplainable contradiction occurs only three weeks later when Lois once again scores “exceeds expectations” marks for the same process.
Soon after turning 65 Lois was demoted. Many long term employees would have quit in disgust, but Lois accepted the demotion with gratitude because she needed and loved her job. Two weeks later Lois was fired for following a direct order from the manager to ship chemicals (hazardous) to the wrong place. Lois knew it was the wrong procedure but she also knew that she could be written up for insubordination. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. Her termination record showed that she was fired for “misconduct”. This is the same employee who continued to exceed expectations in her performance evaluations for 3 years after she had reached her maximum hourly wage. It is shameful to treat someone who did whatever was asked of her for almost 25 years while raising 5 boys. It took courage to endure the 4 year war of accusation and insults made by Walmart against one of its own. Now the record is corrected. Thank you Lois Harris for reminding me why I went to law school! GOD BLESS AMERICA!