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Lawsuit filed against Walmart for pregnancy discrimination

People in New York who work at Walmart might be aware that on Sept. 21, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that it would not make accommodations for a pregnant worker and that this violated the law. The lawsuit is in connection with a Walmart warehouse in Wisconsin where several pregnant women said they were not permitted to participate in a program that allowed lighter duties for some workers.

Federal law prohibits pregnancy discrimination. Walmart has denied the allegations, but the lawsuit seeks both back pay and punitive damages for the workers along with a change to Walmart's practices. Walmart says it is not an appropriate case for a class lawsuit and that the company is intolerant of discrimination.

The company says its policies go above and beyond state and federal law. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act address the responsibility of an employer to make accommodations for workers in certain circumstances.

Most employers are legally obligated to make certain accommodation for pregnant women such as allowing them to sit in a chair or not requiring them to lift heavy boxes. People who believe they are facing discrimination because of pregnancy, a disability or for some other reason might want to consult an attorney about how to document the situation and what steps to take. Usually, the first step is for a person to try to resolve the situation in the workplace, but sometimes, employees worry about the effect on their career or that they will face retaliation. An attorney may be able to advise regarding employee rights, how to handle retaliation and how to escalate if the workplace does not respond.

Source: CNN, "Walmart discriminated against pregnant workers, federal agency says", Nathaniel Meyersohn, Sept. 21, 2018

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