Walmart accused of discriminating against pregnant employees.
Friday (September 21), The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart alleging that women workers at a Walmart warehouse in Menomonie, WI were targets of unlawful pregnancy discrimination.
According to the complaint, Walmart failed to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions while job modifications were provided to non-pregnant employees with physical disabilities. Such requests included a lighter workload and unpaid leave, which were denied.
The EEOC, the agency that enforces federal laws about workplace discrimination, filed the suit on behalf of Alyssa Gilliam and other defendants. At the start of Gilliam's pregnancy in 2015, she requested less physically-straining work as her role at the time included tasks of heavy lifting. Despite putting in place a "light-duy" program to accomodate worker's physical restrictions, Gilliam was denied.
"What our investigation indicated is that Walmart had a robust light-duty program that allowed workers with lifting restrictions to be accommodated," says Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago. "But Walmart deprived pregnant workers of the opportunity to participate in its light-duty program. This amounted to pregnancy discrimination, which violates federal law."
Reutersalso reports that the company, the nation's largest private employer, is facing class action lawsuits in Illinois and New York for allegedly denying accommodations to thousands of pregnant workers at its retail stores.
"Walmart is a great place for women to work. We do not tolerate discrimination, and we support our associates by providing accommodations every day across all of our stores, clubs, distribution centers and offices," said Walmart spokeman Randy Hargrove.
"Our accommodations policy has been updated a number of times over the last several years and our policies have always fully met or exceeded both state and federal law and this includes the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act."