The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds employers in California and throughout the country responsible when federal laws protecting the civil rights of workers are violated. On Sept. 21, the agency filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. in federal court. The EEOC says that the nation's largest private employer violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by treating pregnant women more harshly than other workers. Similar lawsuits have been filed against the retailer in New York and Illinois.
Walmart is accused in the lawsuit of denying requests to accommodate medical restrictions filed by pregnant women while granting requests made by workers with physical disabilities. Requests for the payment of unpaid leave submitted by pregnant workers were also routinely denied according to the EEOC. The Arkansas-based company denied the allegations in a press release and heralded Walmart as a great place for women to work.
The discrimination lawsuit was filed on behalf of a worker who claims that Walmart denied her repeated requests to be assigned duties that did not involve heavy lifting while she was pregnant. The EEOC claims that the retailer denied these requests despite having just such a program in place to accommodate workers with physical disabilities. These refusals violated federal law and caused the employee to work fewer hours and take unpaid leave according to the EEOC.
Cases such as this one are often resolved at the negotiating table, and the defendants involved are generally more inclined to make a generous settlement offer when the evidence against them is compelling. This is why attorneys with experience in this area may urge workers who have suffered discrimination or harassment in the workplace to keep detailed notes and gather as much documentary evidence as possible before stepping forward.
Source: National Public Radio, "Federal Commission Sues Walmart For Alleged Discrimination Against Pregnant Employees", Vanessa Romo, Sept. 21, 2018