EEOC Sues Employers for Pregnancy Discrimination

October 01, 2018

In unrelated cases. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued two employers, claiming they violated federal law for refusing to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions and for refusing to consider a female employee for a promotion on the basis that she might again become pregnant. Before denying a request for an accommodation due to pregnancy or before taking adverse action against an employee who is pregnant, we recommend all employers contact SESCO to ensure Title VII and PDA compliance.

The EEOC claims Walmart violated federal law when it refused to accommodate workers' pregnancy-related medical restrictions. According to the EEOC’s complaint, Alyssa Gilliam and a class of pregnant employees were disallowed from taking part in a company program that accommodated other workers' restrictions. Walmart had a robust light duty program that allowed workers with lifting restrictions to be accommodated, but Walmart deprived pregnant workers of the opportunity to participate in its light duty program. 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 violated Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

In an unrelated lawsuit, the EEOC claimed that an employer violated federal law by refusing to consider a female employee for a promotion on the basis that she might again become pregnant. According to the EEOC's suit, a female dining department employee was encouraged by managers to apply for an open position as a dining room supervisor. Before she applied, however, a manager texted her to ask when she planned on having another baby, explaining, "With this position it doesn't leave a lot of time off for long periods of time." The Employer failed to interview the woman and offered the dining supervisor position to a female that it did not believe would become pregnant.