What's Wal-Mart Got Against Sex Offenders?

Sex offenders have rights too. Don’t they?

At least one Missouri City woman who was convicted of a sex crime is out to prove just that in court after being fired from her job at Wal-Mart.

Rebecca Vlasek, 37, claims that Wal-Mart fired her and more than 800 registered sex offenders, in line with the company’s policy, but unfairly held onto at least 25 sex offenders. On top of that, Vlasek claims in Houston federal court that she believes all the offenders that Wal-Mart retained are men, and therefore the company additionally discriminated against her as a woman.

“I’m betting a dollar to a doughnut that all 25 of those guys are white males wearing shirt and ties in their offices at pretty high levels,” Vlasek’s attorney, Michael Barnes, tells Hair Balls.

He says he does not have the proof yet, but will hopefully once he gets into the discovery phase of the case.

This is the second go-around for Vlasek in court over her firing. She filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in early January, but her claims, including wrongful termination, were dismissed, according to court records, based on the fact that her contract with Wal-Mart was “at-will,” meaning she could be fired for more or less any reason.

This latest lawsuit however, is based on claims of unfair treatment and gender discrimination arising from the revelation, Barnes says, that the company kept 25 sex offenders on the payroll.

“The neat thing that happened in the case,” Barnes says, “was that after spending a day driving up to Bentonville and a sleepless night at a motel in Rogers, Arkansas, I got up the next morning and went and deposed a person, essentially the personnel director, who just out of the blue that morning told me, ‘Oh, yeah, by the way, we kept 25 of the registered sex offenders out of the 800 we’ve investigated.’ Well, my eyes perked up. I just couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Okay, that’s interesting,’ and went on. It didn’t help us in that case, but we were able to re-file and that’s what we did.”

Vlasek claims it us unfair to fire some, but not all, of the sex offenders.

“So my question is like the old Jewish thing,” says Barnes, “’Why is this night different from all other nights?’”

Vlasek, a former high-school teacher in Brenham, pleaded guilty in 1999 to felony sexual assault of a minor, according to court records. Media reported that the charge stemmed from a relationship with a 14-year-old female student. Vlasek received 10 years of probation and was required to register as a sex offender with the state.

-- Chris Vogel

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