Recently two Walmart employees, Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright, filed a lawsuit in Illinois Federal Court, accusing the conglomerate retailer of discriminating against pregnant workers and treating them as “second-class citizens” by allegedly forcing them to continue lifting heavy items, and continue climbing on stairs and ladders, unnecessarily placing them at risk.
Woolbright alleged that her manager at Walmart’s Florida store told her pregnancy was “no excuse” and that she had to do her share of the heavy lifting. Borders, who worked at an Illinois Walmart, claimed she was reprimanded for asking coworkers to climb ladders and assist her with the heavier boxes during her pregnancy.
Randy Hargrove, the spokesman for Walmart, denied the allegations and stated that Walmart’s policies “have always fully met or exceeded both state and federal law.”
In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Although pregnancy is technically not a disability, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), employers that grant certain privileges to employees that are temporarily disabled, must provide the same privileges to pregnant woman that become limited in their abilities to function as a result of the pregnancy.
The New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which provides further protection, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as more frequent bathroom breaks, longer resting periods, and limits on manual labor. An employer may not refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant worker unless it can prove that the accommodation would create an “undue hardship” for the business.
Pregnancy discrimination laws are rather complex and employees are often confused as to what their rights are. If you feel you were treated unfairly during or after your pregnancy or denied reasonable accommodations, you should contact an experienced New Jersey and New York City Pregnancy Discrimination attorney to explore your rights and options.
Zafer Akin, the managing partner at the Akin Law Group 212-825-1400) provides free consultations to victims of pregnancy discrimination.
The labor & employment attorneys at the Akin Law Group, located in Downtown Manhattan (New York City), have a 24-year proven track record representing employees that have been subjected to sexual harassment, employment discrimination and Minimum Wage or Overtime pay violations. Being situated in the financial district, we are within an easy commute for clients in New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island), Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.