Walmart Inc. has agreed to pay $14 million to settle an Illinois class-action lawsuit by workers who said the retailer's pregnancy accommodation policies violate civil-rights laws.
Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for the Bentonville-based retailer, said Wednesday that the company is "happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution" in the matter.
Attorneys for plaintiffs Talisa Borders, Otisha Woolbright and Stacey Lewis filed a motion Tuesday seeking preliminary approval of the settlement and conditional certification of the settlement class. The proposed class consists of current and former female Walmart employees who were subject to the company's policies and practices between March 19, 2013, and March 2014.
The motion was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Original plaintiffs Borders and Woolbright claimed in their complaint filed in May 2017 that before March 2014, Walmart had a policy denying pregnant women the same accommodations as workers with disabilities.
The complaint states the policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the later Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 requires employers to provide pregnant workers with the same accommodations as they do disabled employees.
The plaintiffs said their supervisors denied their requests to limit heavy lifting, climbing ladders and other potentially dangerous tasks while they were pregnant. Borders worked at an Illinois store, and Woolbright at a store in Jacksonville, Fla.
"Walmart has had a strong policy against discrimination in place for many years," Hargrove said, "and we continue to be a great place for women to work and advance." He added that Walmart's parental leave plan gives birth mothers who are full-time hourly workers 16 weeks of paid leave.
The suit is Borders et al v. Wal-Mart Inc.
The retailer, which is the nation's largest private employer, faces similar class-action lawsuits in Wisconsin and New York.
Business on 10/17/2019