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Baby Steps: Walmart Takes Its First Step to Accommodate Pregnant Workers

Pregnant workers at Walmart got a break earlier this year. After months of worker engagement and activism, and a class action discrimination charge brought by the National Women’s Law Center along with our partners, A Better Balance and Mehri & Skalet, the country’s largest employer of women announced a policy shift that represented a big step forward in ensuring that pregnant women who need them will receive basic accommodations. Previously, Walmart’s policy had explicitly stated that pregnancy was a condition eligible only for minor job adjustments and that a pregnant worker was ineligible for the same reassignments and transfers of nonessential job duties offered to workers with disabilities. As a result, as we heard from many Walmart associates, pregnant workers with medical needs for accommodation were routinely denied them, even as Walmart provided these accommodations for workers with medical needs stemming from non-pregnancy-related disabilities and on the job injuries, in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). For many women at Walmart, having a baby meant losing a paycheck, or even a job. This is what happened to our client, “Melissa,” who Walmart pushed onto unpaid leave early in her third trimester when her doctor told her to stay off ladders and avoid lifting more than 25-pounds.

But this spring, Walmart announced that it will begin to provide reasonable accommodations for temporary disabilities caused by pregnancy. This change is an important first step, but more is necessary to ensure that Walmart will treat pregnant workers as the law requires, allowing them to stay healthy and stay on the job. A better policy would avoid the ambiguous language “temporary disability caused by pregnancy,” which could be understood to apply only to workers with pregnancy complications. It would make clear that Walmart will provide reasonable accommodations to all workers who have a medical need for it, regardless of whether the need arises out of a normally-progressing pregnancy, or an illness, or an injury.

In addition to being required by the PDA, accommodating pregnant workers’ medical needs for temporary adjustments is smart business [PDF]. Many of the accommodations that pregnant workers need are those already sought by workers with disabilities, such as altering start and end times, providing break time, honoring lifting restrictions, or providing a stool or water bottle for the worker. Long experience providing accommodations to workers with disabilities has demonstrated that costs are minimal [PDF] and providing the accommodations has the benefits of reducing workforce turnover, increasing employee satisfaction and productivity, and savings in workers’ compensation and other insurance costs. Accommodating pregnant workers is not only family-friendly, it is good for the bottom line. Maybe Walmart is beginning to recognize this, as it takes its initial steps toward a policy that works for pregnant women.

On June 23, businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates, and ordinary citizens will convene to focus on the needs of working families across the income spectrum. The White House Summit on Working Families is an opportunity for stakeholders to identify policy changes that will help to make full use of America’s talent pool and allow women to get and keep good jobs. Part of the conversation has to be about pregnancy discrimination. The birth of a child is one of the most common entry points into poverty, and pregnant workers are too often denied even minor accommodations when they need them to continue working. It doesn’t have to be this way—pregnancy discrimination is not good for workers and it is not good for business. Businesses must adopt clear policies providing accommodations for pregnant workers who need them.

Comments

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Every mom should be careful

Every mom should be careful and take care of their and their baby at the time of pregnancy as this the most vital stage, in which growth of all body organs takes place. It was quite impossible for women workers. Thanks for thinking about this and find out a solution for this. Everyone in this world have to this as children are the future of our country. With this giving them a bright future is our responsible. So every parent should be aware about baby products. babysteals archive

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Pregnant

I'm Kathy working in hotel the management talked me to go in the doctor and tell our job description because I get I high risk experience they cancel my schedule without any doctors note permission if ready now to take a rest. Is there any descrimanation to cancel my schedule without doctors note.

Pregnant

I'm Kathy working in hotel the management talked me to go in the doctor and tell our job description because I get I high risk experience they cancel my schedule without any doctors note permission if ready now to take a rest. Is there any descrimanation to cancel my schedule without doctors note.

Pregnant

I'm Kathy working in hotel the management talked me to go in the doctor and tell our job description because I get I high risk experience they cancel my schedule without any doctors note permission if ready now to take a rest. Is there any descrimanation to cancel my schedule without doctors note.

Pregnant

I'm Kathy working in hotel the management talked me to go in the doctor and tell our job description because I get I high risk experience they cancel my schedule without any doctors note permission if ready now to take a rest. Is there any descrimanation to cancel my schedule without doctors note.

actions speak louder than words

While Walmart claims to be changing these policies, they aren't. I am currently about 7 months pregnant and work at Walmart. I was put on restrictions which, were blatantly disregarded. My managers forced me onto areas outside of my restrictions. This is causing a lot of medical issues for me and my unborn baby, including being sent into preterm labor. Luckily, I recognized the symptoms and left work for the hospital where they were able to get it under conrol. I am now on bed rest because of this and unable to work, which is being held against me along with any days I have had to leave early because of issues relating to this. Nobody in the company cares. I'm on the verge of losing my job because of their negligence.

please contact me

I was wondering if you could email me at jordanfamily92@Gmail.com I am starting an investigation with HR and they want to know if anyone is being treated the same way as I am about to get fired for not being able to lift over 15lbs

Small victory, still happens

I work a Walmart, and violations like this are still happening. A coworker of mine was told she was going to be fired when took her maternity leave because "she wouldnt be available to work during the holiday season". My state also has enacted a paid sick leave act, entitling any workers with qualifying circumstances (of which she applies) to be entitled to paid sick leave, mandated by state law, for the care of self, spouse, children, or parents, domestic or sexual violence to self or others. And Walmart is denying her the right to use this to care for herself during her pregnancy. Walmart talks a great game but they dont ACTUALLY do what they say.

Pregnancy Discrimination

WOW!!!! This is amazing but in my case a year too late. I was employed by Walmart last year and was fired because I became pregnant after I started working. I was not accommodated and was told that I couldn't fulfill my duties which required standing and lifting. Although it's a little late for me I still thank God for this victory for other families.

can u get a hold of me

Can you please email me at jordanfamily92@Gmail.com they are trying to fire me due to me not being able to lift over 15pounds and I'm working with HR to start investigation.

can u get a hold of me

Can you please email me at jordanfamily92@Gmail.com they are trying to fire me due to me not being able to lift over 15pounds and I'm working with HR to start investigation.

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