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"WALMART: SUPERCENTER" By Alphageek Is Licensed Under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"WALMART: SUPERCENTER" by alphageek is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Walmart Enacts a New Policy for Pregnant Workers: What You Need to Know to Stop Pregnancy Discrimination

Working at Walmart while pregnant? Recovering from childbirth? Temporarily need to stop lifting heavy boxes, need more water breaks, or other assistance? With Walmart’s new policy, you don’t have to choose between your paycheck and your health.

  • What does the Walmart policy say?

 The new Walmart policy allows employees who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or recovering from childbirth to ask for job adjustments, reasonable accommodations, and now, Temporary Alternative Duty—a program that, in most states, Walmart has previously reserved only for workers with on-the-job injuries.

Here are some examples of accommodations that you might need at work:

  • Light duty or a temporary transfer to a less physically demanding position;
  • Breaks to drink water;
  • Occasional breaks to rest;
  • Time off for recovery from childbirth;
  • Changes to your work environment (for example, avoiding toxins); or
  • A modified work schedule.
  • Am I covered?

 If you have a limitation because you are pregnant, breastfeeding, recovering from childbirth, or have a related condition, and work for Walmart, then you may be covered. This includes part-time workers.

  • What are my rights at Walmart?

 Walmart should provide a “reasonable accommodation” to keep you healthy and safe at work while you have a limitation due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, recovering from childbirth, or a related condition. A “reasonable accommodation” means an adjustment that allows you to do your job and doesn’t place too great a burden on your employer.

These rights under Walmart’s national policy should apply in most states.  In a handful of states, Walmart has state-specific policies that may give you more rights during or after pregnancy.

To learn more about your specific rights, check the “Accommodations in Employment – (Medical-Related) Policy” on the Wire and speak to your manager. And for more information on laws in your specific state or locality, please visit this overview.

  • Is Walmart required to grant my request?

Walmart may deny your request if the accommodation would create an “undue hardship” meaning that it would be too difficult or expensive for them. Given that Walmart is a large employer and it has many different kinds of positions, this may be hard for them to show. Also, Walmart may deny your request if, even with some assistance, it’s too hard for you to do the main things that your job requires. In this circumstance, Temporary Alternative Duty might be available to you, which means Walmart could temporarily assign you to a different position. In addition, if Walmart accommodates other employees (who are not pregnant) even when it’s hard, or even when these employees can’t perform the essential functions of their jobs, then you might be able to use this to show that denying your accommodation is pregnancy-based discrimination.

Remember, if you cannot perform the essential functions of your job, then under the new policy, Walmart should consider giving you Temporary Alternative Duty.

  • Walmart’s policy refers to “disabilities” when discussing accommodations. Does my pregnancy have to be considered a “disability” under the Walmart policy to get a job adjustment or an accommodation?

It’s a little murky.

According to the policy, to qualify for a job adjustment, such as having a chair or a water bottle at your workstation, you need to have a “limitation” based on pregnancy, breastfeeding, recovery from childbirth, or related condition.

If you’d like to seek a bigger accommodation such as a modified work schedule or changing some job functions, you must have a “temporary impairment” caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, recovery from childbirth, or related condition. To qualify for such an accommodation you will still need to be able to complete the essential functions of your job. The legal standard for a disability requires that you be limited in a “major life activity” but you do not need to meet that standard if you are pregnant at Walmart.

You may be entitled to Temporary Alternative Duty—or being assigned to a new position temporarily—if you cannot perform the essential functions of your job with a reasonable accommodation or job adjustment.

  • What should I do if I need help?

A Better Balance, the National Women’s Law Center, and Mehri & Skalet LLC, three legal groups, are representing numerous workers in their pregnancy discrimination claims against Walmart, and they are working to ensure that Walmart enforces the new policy.  OUR Walmart, a nonprofit, also advocates for pregnant workers at Walmart.

Get help to fight for your rights!

Call A Better Balance at (212) 430-5982 or contact the National Women’s Law Center here to talk to someone about your rights and to see if we can help.

You can also reach out to your local OUR Walmart chapter for additional support in the workplace.

  • How can I help spread the word about this important new policy?

 Help educate your coworkers about the new Walmart policy by sharing this webpage.

View the policy here.

Ask your supervisor about the policy and let us know what they say!

This webpage is designed to assist you in understanding your rights at work when pregnant. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you think your rights have been violated.