NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A New York jury ordered Wal-Mart to pay $7.5 million in damages to a disabled former employee in a class-action lawsuit in which he claimed the retailer unfairly reassigned him to garbage duty even though he was hired to work in the pharmacy department.
The plaintiff, 21-year-old Long Island resident Patrick Brady, suffers from cerebral palsy. According to the plaintiff's attorney Douglas Wigdor, Brady applied for a position in the pharmacy unit of a Wal-Mart store in Centereach, NY. and was hired in the summer of 2002.
But Brady, who worked for just four days before he quit, claimed he was soon reassigned to other responsibilities that included collecting garbage and shopping carts in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
The jury's multi-million dollar award to Brady Wednesday includes $5 million in punitive damages, which is likely to be reduced to between $300,000 and $800,000, according to Wigdor.
"We appreciate the service of the jurors, but disagree with their decision," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Davis Gallagher told CNN. "We feel very strongly that Mr. Brady did not suffer discrimination in our store. Wal-Mart does not tolerate discrimination of any kind."
"As soon as Mr. Brady expressed dissatisfaction with his position, we transferred him to another position that he requested. Although the jury has reached a decision, we do not expect the court to enter a final judgment until we have the opportunity to establish how the jury was wrong. We are optimistic that the award will be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether," Gallagher said.