On the Job Working Light Duty, Federal Agency Charges
MADISON, Wis. - Walmart violated federal law when it refused to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Alyssa Gilliam and a class of pregnant employees at Walmart's Distribution Center #6025 in Menomonie, Wis., were disallowed from taking part in a company program that accommodated other workers' restrictions.
"What our investigation indicated is that Walmart had a robust light duty program that allowed workers with lifting restrictions to be accommodated," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation. "But Walmart deprived pregnant workers of the opportunity to participate in its light duty program. This amounted to pregnancy discrimination, which violates federal law."
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Walmart Stores East, LP, d/b/a Walmart Distribution Center #6025, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-783) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on September 20, 2018 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Walmart's practices going forward.
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, said, "By accommodating a large percentage of its non-pregnant employees with light duty work while denying those same accommodations to pregnant workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work, Walmart acted in contravention of the law."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.