- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Justice Department on Wednesday sued Walmart Inc., alleging it discriminated against a Naval Reservist because she needed two weeks off in the summer for military training.

The department’s Civil Rights Division filed the lawsuit in the District of Colorado on behalf of Naval Petty Officer Third Class Lindsey Hunger.

“Servicemembers risk their lives to protect all of us. They deserve our full support, and the law does not permit employers to use military service as a reason to deny servicemembers jobs and other employment opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.

Ms. Hunger applied for a summer job at Walmart in Grand Junction Colorado in May 2017, according to the lawsuit. She alleges that during a phone interview, she informed a Walmart personnel coordinator that she needs to take two weeks off in the summer to fulfill her mandatory training for the Navy Reserve.

Justice Department lawyers say the coordinator told Ms. Hunger that Walmart could not support the time off and ended the call. Walmart never got in touch with Ms. Hunger about her employment application, the lawsuit said.

A Walmart spokesman said the retailer takes the lawsuit seriously and will respond in court as appropriate. The spokesman said Walmart is one of the country’s largest employers of active military and veterans, adding that at any given time the company has “several thousand” employees on military leave.

“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and the allegations being made are extremely disturbing ” the company said in a statement. We have policies and training in place to ensure we are compliant with all laws, including the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Act.”

Ms. Hunger, who supports two small kids according to the lawsuit, was unable to find a job for the rest of the summer.

The lawsuit alleges Walmart violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994, which protects servicemembers from discrimination in the workplace based on military service commitments.

Mr. Dreiband said the Justice Department will continue to aggressively enforce the USERRA.

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