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Federal Government Sues Walmart for Firing Employee With Down Syndrome

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Customers shop at a Walmart store on Jan. 17, 2017 in Skokie, Illinois. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Walmart is facing a federal lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after it fired a 15-year employee with Down syndrome from one of its Wisconsin stores.

Marlo Spaeth was disciplined for missing work after Walmart management changed her schedule of 15 years, the EEOC said in a news release on Wednesday. She typically worked from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., but when management switched her to working longer, later hours, the EEOC says Spaeth’s disability made it difficult for her to adapt to the new routine.

The schedule change began in November of 2014, USA Today reported, and Walmart fired Spaeth in July 2015. In that time, Walmart refused repeated requests from Spaeth to return to her original schedule, according to the EEOC.

After Spaeth lost her job, her sister Amy Stevenson, contacted the EEOC for help,

“We are talking about a person who just can’t easily be taken out of their habits and rituals,” Stevenson told USA Today. “It is something that needs to be respected.”

Walmart spokesman Ragan Dickens wrote in an emailed statement to Fortune that Spaeth told the company she understood her job requirements and the importance of working her full schedule. “We’re sensitive to this situation and we tried to reach an amicable resolution that would support Ms. Spaeth,” Dickens said. “We remain open to continuing those discussions, but the EEOC has not acted in her best interest.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order Walmart to reinstate Spaeth with back pay and compensatory and punitive damages. It also seeks to force the company to provide reasonable accommodation for any other employees with disabilities.