American retail giant Walmart has faced its fair share of praise and criticism like any other business does. On one hand, customers love the low prices and the fact that you can buy just about anything in-store or online. On the other hand, there have been many concerns when it comes to Walmart's retail employees and how they're treated.
When it comes to the latter, it turns out that those concerns aren't totally unfounded. It's recently been revealed that Walmart must pay $14 million USD to settle a class action lawsuit of pregnancy discrimination. Specifically, it alleged that Walmart had a discriminatory written policy in place that had denied pregnant retail employees the same benefits as colleagues who weren't pregnant.
It all started with an unidentified pregnant Walmart retail employee who had a medical restriction that had her unable to lift 25 pounds or higher due to her condition. Yet she was still denied being assigned to light duty despite the fact that light duty was available for those who were simply injured at work. The worker also said that Walmart told her that she had to go on unpaid leave of absence, as per company policy.
Slowly but surely, more pregnant Walmart employees would come forward with similar allegations of pregnancy discrimination. In total, the class action lawsuit included 740 Walmart employees. All of them had said that accommodation requests related to their pregnancy were consistently rejected by their employer. This is in direct violation with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which says that any discrimination against an employee due to pregnancy, childbirth or something related to either or is illegal.
While this $14 million settlement sounds nice, Walmart doesn't seem to be doing it for the right reasons. According to the settlement, the retail company isn't conceding that the allegations and facts of the case are true. It appears as though they're doing this to hastily fix this and make the lawsuit go away. Whether any real changes happen within Walmart in terms of making pregnancy discrimination history still remains to be seen.
This lawsuit "was one of the first, if not the first, in the nation in which private plaintiffs brought claims of pregnancy discrimination on behalf of a class of women who were denied workplace accommodations because of pregnancy." Considering the fact that pregnancy discrimination continues to be an issue in and out of the U.S., similar lawsuits are only going to pop up more and more over the next few years.