Department of Justice Sues Walmart for Allegedly Discriminating Against Navy Officer

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against Walmart Inc. on behalf of a U.S. Navy officer, alleging that the Arkansas-based retailer violated the law when it declined to hire her due to her reserve duties.

“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 service members jobs and other employment opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division, according to a statement on the Justice Department’s website.

It added: “Defending service members is very important, and the U.S. Department of Justice will continue aggressively to enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and other federal laws that protect service members.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Naval Petty Officer Third Class Lindsey Hunger, who alleged that in May 2016, she applied for a job at Walmart, getting a call from the company’s personnel coordinator.

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An undated file photo of a Walmart store. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The coordinator, who was not named, said they couldn’t support her getting time off to complete mandatory, two-week training for her Navy reserve duty.

The agency noted that “Walmart’s conduct violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which was passed 25 years ago to protect the rights of service members.”

“The members of our Armed Forces routinely make personal sacrifices to protect our nation. The least we can do as a nation is ensure they aren’t discriminated against for making these sacrifices,” stated U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn of the District of Colorado. “When such discrimination does occur, this office and the Department of Justice will step in to right that wrong.”

The U.S. Department of Justice building is seen in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2019. (Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images)

Walmart issued a statement about the lawsuit.

The firm said the claims of discrimination are “extremely disturbing,” and it does not “tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

“We have policies and training in place to help ensure we are compliant with all laws, including USERRA. We take this seriously and will respond with the court as appropriate,” the statement said. The firm also said: “We’re one of the largest employers of both active military and veterans. At any given time, Walmart has several thousand associates on military leave of absence. In 2012, Walmart signed a Statement of Support for the Guard and Reserve, and we remain committed to our military members,” reported ABC News.