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Walmart Object of New Class Action for Pregnancy Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit on behalf of a class of women who allege pregnancy discrimination against Walmart.
A Walmart Distribution Center in Wisconsin was the site of the discrimination. Specifically, Alyssa Gilliam has asserted that she was pregnant in 2015 and she requested light duty or the ability to transfer to a less strenuous position in order to avoid heavy lifting. However, Walmart management refused her request, purportedly telling her that light duty was available only for employees on workers’ compensation. When she tried other requests such as a chair, shorter work days or additional breaks, they refused that as well. She had to take intermittent leave because of Walmart’s refusal. She ultimately transferred to a part-time job so that she would be lifting less. Her transfer resulted in losing her benefits and earning less pay. When she had to submit her doctor’s note reflecting a five-pound restriction on what she could lift, she was placed on FMLA leave. Ms. Gilliam still had two months remaining before she was expected to give birth.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Walmart had a policy of providing accommodation by way of light duty work to non-pregnant employees with lifting restrictions. Because pregnant workers were excluded from this program, the EEOC has asserted that it was pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII. Walmart has denied the allegations, asserting that it does not tolerate discrimination and it provides accommodation in accordance with its policy that meets or exceeds state and federal law. According to Reuters, Walmart is also facing pregnancy discrimination class actions in Illinois and New York.