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Settlement Approved in Walmart Pregnancy Discrimination Case

A federal judge has approved a $14 million settlement in a class action lawsuit accusing Walmart of discriminating against pregnant employees. According to the claim, the retailer denied access to necessary workplace accommodations.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, it is the first case of its kind to settle as a class action.

The settlement was approved by US District Judge Staci M. Yandle of the Southern District of Illinois. The settlement will be split among 4000 women who claim they were denied pregnancy accommodations while working at Walmart in a one-year period beginning in March 2013. The settlement amount will also cover legal fees and other costs associated with settling.

Said Emily Martin, an attorney at the National Women’s Law Center, “This sends a clear message to employers across the country about why pregnancy accommodations have to be a focus, and why pregnant workers’ health and safety is a key issue for businesses.”

The store admitted to no wrongdoing as a condition of the settlement but has since made significant changes to its policies regarding pregnancy accommodations. A statement released by the company following the settlement claims it is happy the two sides were able to reach a resolution.

Walmart Previously Did Not Extend Accommodations to Pregnant Workers

The class action filed against Walmart revealed that until March 2014, the company excluded pregnant employees from accommodations offered to those with disabilities or injuries. It described pregnancy as a medical condition not eligible for reassignment to lighter duty or transfer.

At least one class action participant reported she was not allowed to forego heavy lifting duties while pregnant. That same employee reported slipping off a ladder while working. She obtained a doctor’s note that limited her ability to lift no more than 25 pounds and to avoid climbing. Walmart responded by forcing the employee to take an unpaid leave of absence.

Another claimant was refused lighter duty by her supervisor even after she submitted a doctor’s note. The employee had been categorized as high-risk by her doctor and told to avoid strenuous work. She claims she was told, “If you can’t do heavy lifting, you can walk out those doors.” She was later injured on the job while carrying 50-pound trays of chickens, which resulted in her being given lighter duty.

A claim was filed against Walmart with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2014 alleging discrimination and violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A later claim filed against the company accused it of gender discrimination. The class of plaintiffs ultimately grew to thousands of women who were exposed to discrimination while working at Walmart. Each is expected to be compensated on average about $2200.

Since the lawsuit was filed, many states have passed laws expanding protections for pregnant workers. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision in Young v. UPS made it easier for pregnant workers to file claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Contact an Attorney If You Have Questions About Pregnancy Discrimination

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace due to pregnancy or any other issue, we can help.

For more information or to discuss your case, contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 to schedule a free consultation.