Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright, two former employees of Wal-Mart Stores, filed a lawsuit again the retail giant in the Southern District of Illinois on Friday (May 12). The suit claims pregnant employees were denied the same workplace accommodations as others with disabilities.
The proposed class action suit (Borders v. Wal-Mart Stores) would include more than 25,000 women who worked for the retailer before 2014. The plaintiffs said before Wal-Mart changed its policy in 2014, pregnant workers were treated as “second-class-citizens” and still required to climb ladders and do somewhat heavy lifting, despite their asking for a disability waiver.
According to the filing, both women said there were repercussions for them when they chose not to do the risky activities such as climbing or lifting more than 50 pounds while they were pregnant, noting that Wal-Mart changed the company policy in 2014 to reflect pregnancy as a disability that can limit physical activity.
Wal-Mart corporate spokesman Randy Hargrove the retailer disagrees that the claims raised are entitled to class-action treatment.
“Walmart is a great place for women to work,” Hargrove said. “Our policies have always fully met or exceeded both state and federal law and this includes the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. We’ve also had a strong anti-discrimination policy, which provides more protection than required by the law. That policy has long listed pregnancy as a protected status. We deny the claims of Ms. Borders and Ms. Woolbright and plan to defend the company.”