The retail giant, Walmart has reached a settlement agreement for a class action suit brought against them for their policy on pregnant employees. The multibillion-dollar company had a written policy that barred pregnant workers from being assigned lighter workloads in their stores. Pregnant women, who should have given duties that limit extensive physical activity, we’re told to continue with their normal duties or take unpaid leave. The proposed $14 million settlement is awaiting approval by a federal judge in the Sothern District of Illinois.
If approved, this will end a legal battle that began over six years ago. The $14 million will be put into a common fund. The settlement estimates each of the affected class members will be given a minimum of $819 or a maximum of $2,049. However, the amount depends on how many of the over 11,000 class members apply for an award.
The lead plaintiffs, Talisa Borders, Odisha Woolbright, and Stacey Lewis claimed that Walmart “maintained a discriminatory written policy until March 5, 2014, that denied pregnant workers the same benefits offered to other workers similar in their ability or inability to work, in violation of the pregnancy discrimination act of 1978.” The suit was prompted by Borders who told her supervisor she could not lift more than 25lbs. Because of her pregnancy, she requested lighter work and was denied. Her supervisor told her to take an unpaid leave of absence or continue her normal work.
After seeking legal advice, Borders filed a pregnancy discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Two months after the filing, Walmart did change its policy but did not resolve the issue with Borders and other workers like her. After years of back and forth within the processes of the EEOC, a class action was filed. It was not certified until late 2018 when both sides began mediation. Arguments continued throughout the year and resulted in this agreement reached last week.
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