Walmart recently agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over pregnancy discrimination for $14 million.
Earlier this week, Walmart Stores Inc. agreed to pay $14 million to about 4,000 workers who are allegedly discriminated against while pregnant. The decision came after an Illinois federal court signed off on the massive class-action settlement that aims to draw attention to “policies that can exclude expecting mothers.”
The settlement itself was approved on Wednesday and came on the heels of a lawsuit filed on behalf of pregnant workers who experienced some sort of discrimination between March 19, 2013, and March 5, 2014. The suit was filed in 2017 and the main plaintiffs were Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright. According to them, the “company’s disability policy excluded pregnant workers.”
Additionally, the suit alleged that “as many as 48,000 women were denied accommodations.” Dina Bakst, the co-president of A Better Balance, was one of many who represented the workers. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
When commenting on the lawsuit, attorneys from Mehri & Skalet and the National Women’s Law Center, two other groups who represented the plaintiffs, said:
“Pregnant workers, like all working people, deserve to be healthy and safe at work. This settlement will benefit thousands of women across the country, and we are proud of the results achieved for these workers.”
When responding to the allegations, Walmart issued a statement saying the company is “proud to offer a parental leave plan that provides birth mothers who are full-time hourly associates with 16 weeks of paid leave.” However, it denied the allegations and stated:
“We’re happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution. Walmart has had a strong policy against discrimination in place for many years and we continue to be a great place for women to work and advance.”
Attorneys with Katz Marshall & Banks chimed in on the case, even though they aren’t involved in the case, and said the recent settlement “signaled that companies should be careful not to have policies that could potentially discriminate based on pregnancy.” They added that “light-duty accommodations can’t be offered to only people injured on the job, or to only people with disabilities. They also must be available to pregnant workers.”
This isn’t the first time pregnant workers have been discriminated in the workplace. In fact, a U.S. Supreme Court case back in 2015, Young v. UPS, pretty much set the framework for “courts to evaluate pregnant workers’ claims that they were unlawfully denied accommodations.” In that case, the high court ruled that a “pregnant employee can establish an initial case that she suffered discrimination by showing that her employer denied her accommodation request and had accommodated others similar in their ability or inability to work.”