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Litigation over alleged pregnancy discrimination

The way that expectant mothers are viewed in the workplace has changed dramatically over the course of the last several decades. In fact, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made discrimination based on medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth illegal. Further protections were added in 2008. Though most employers in California are willing to provide the accommodations required by law, there are still those who violate law and discriminate against pregnant workers. Unfortunately, Walmart may be facing litigation over allegations that it discriminated against a pregnant worker who claims she was seeking reasonable accommodations.

The woman claims that she began to feel nauseated due to her pregnancy while at work as a packer at a distribution center for Walmart. When she informed her supervisor, he told her she would have to bring in a note from her doctor to get another break. She returned with a note stating that she needed to avoid heavy lifting. The supervisor reportedly  informed her to take the note to human resources.

Human resources informed her that she was a liability to the company and that she would need to request unpaid leave. If she did not request leave, she could lose her job altogether. As it would with most people, unpaid leave left the expectant mother in a precarious financial situation. After realizing that the treatment she received may have been illegal, she began working with other organizations who filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A representative for Walmart claims that there was no other position available that would accommodate the woman's conditions and asserted that the company was willing to work with her over the issue.

While many employers in California and across the country are willing to go to great lengths to do what is in the best interest of their employees, there are still those who resist laws ordering them to make reasonable accommodations under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, workers often feel helpless and unsure of their possibilities. However, litigation often makes companies rethink their policies and do what is right, both legally and morally.

Source: CNN, "Fired for being pregnant: Another kind of discrimination women face at work", Elissa Strauss, Feb. 1, 2018

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