A Better Balance and our partners are holding Walmart accountable for mistreating pregnant workers.
A Better Balance filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against Walmart for discrimination against pregnant workers. This lawsuit grew out of two charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2014, and was filed in conjunction with our partners, , the National Women’s Law Center, Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, and Sedey Harper & Westhoff, P.C.
“In 2017, it’s incredible that major companies like Walmart are discriminating against pregnant women—who are simply asking to keep on working and have a healthy pregnancy,” said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President of A Better Balance. “Pregnancy discrimination is a huge problem that disproportionately affects low-wage workers, like those at Walmart.”
One of the named plaintiffs, Talisa Borders, was a Walmart sales associate who was seven months pregnant when Walmart refused to accommodate her restrictions despite routinely accommodating workers with a wide array of non-pregnancy-related disabilities. Walmart pushed Ms. Borders onto unpaid leave. The second named plaintiff, Otisha Woolbright, was denied accommodations for heavy lifting during her pregnancy and was ultimately fired because of her pregnancy. See our press release here.
What happened to these pregnant workers was not an isolated incident. In fact, Walmart’s written Accommodation in Employment policy explicitly treated pregnant workers like second-class citizens, denying them accommodations available to employees with disabilities or who were injured on the job in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
In April 2020, the court approved a settlement in the amount of $14 million for claims by approximately 4,000 pregnant workers that they had requested but were denied workplace accommodations at Walmart between March 19, 2013 and March 5, 2014.
“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,” said A Better Balance, the National Women’s Law Center, and Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.
While the policy at issue was updated, we are still fighting to ensure that every Walmart worker is given the accommodations she needs to have a healthy pregnancy and stay on the job– we will not stop fighting until justice is served.
If you, or someone you know works at Walmart and has experienced problems at work while pregnant, please call A Better Balance at 833-NEED-ABB (833-633-3222) or fill out a form here.
In the News
- “Workers Say Walmart is Still Punishing Pregnant Employees,” ThinkProgress
- “Lawsuit: Walmart Discriminated Against Pregnant Workers,” Rewire
- “Former Walmart Workers Say Company Treated Thousands of Pregnant Employees Unfairly,” Consumerist
- “Walmart Discriminated Against Thousands of Workers, Lawsuit Alleges,” Broadly
- “Workers Say Walmart Discriminated Against Thousands of Pregnant Workers,” Reuters
- “Walmart Faces New Pregnancy Discrimination Charges,” The Washington Post
- “Under Pressure, Wal-Mart Upgrades Its Policy for Helping Pregnant Workers,” The Washington Post
- “Wal-Mart Swears Its New Pregnancy Policy Has Nothing To Do With Outside Pressure,” Business Week
- “Pregnant Workers at Walmart Fear The Company’s New Policy Won’t Go Far Enough To Protect Them,” Think Progress
- Pregnancy Discrimination is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies, NYTimes
- Walmart’s $14 Million Deal with Pregnant Workers Gets Approval, Bloomberg
- A Better Balance has been fighting Walmart due to their discriminatory practices since January of 2013, when we sent a letter to their General Counsel raising concerns about how they treated their pregnant workers based on what we were hearing on the ground.
- In December 2013, two worker shareholders and OUR Walmart memberssubmitted a proposal to shareholders calling on Walmart to publicly commit to ending its illegal treatment of pregnant workers. A Better Balance worked with them to craft their shareholder proposal. They submitted their proposal in December 2013 for inclusion in the shareholder proxy materials for the Walmart 2014 annual meeting of shareholders. They withdrew the proposal in March after receiving a copy of the newly adopted policy from Walmart. Click here to read more information about the shareholder resolution.
- Walmart’s 2014 Accommodation in Employment policy now explicitly states that workers with temporary disabilities caused by pregnancy are eligible for the same reasonable accommodations as those with other disabilities. However, A Better Balance immediately raised concerns about this new policy as well.
- In October 2017, Walmart’s Accommodations in Employment policy was updated yet again to specifically offer “Temporary Alternative Duty” to pregnant workers, access to which was previously limited only to workers who had been injured on the job. Despite this update, A Better Balance continued to express concerns about the implementation of this new policy.
- In July 2018, A Better Balance filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Walmart’s “no-fault” absence control policy as systemically violating the rights of women who need leave for pregnancy-related illnesses or medical care. We filed on behalf of two former Walmart employees who were fired—in violation of New York state law— after Walmart deemed their pregnancy-related hospital visits “unauthorized.” It is the first class-action brought under the New York law. Click here to read our press releaseand click here for the complaint.
- In February 2019, Walmart announced a series of changes to its attendance policies, including that absences for pregnancy-related conditions will now be authorized for pregnant associates and their partners.