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U.S. agency accuses Walmart of pregnancy discrimination in lawsuit

By Daniel Wiessner
The Walmart logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart Inc of forcing pregnant workers at a Wisconsin warehouse to go on unpaid leave and denying their requests to take on easier duties.

The EEOC, which enforces federal laws banning discrimination in the workplace, said Walmart's distribution center in Menomonie, Wisconsin, has discriminated against pregnant employees since 2014. Federal law requires employers to accommodate workers' pregnancies in the same way as physicaldisabilities.

Arkansas-based Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, stems from a complaint filed by Walmart employee Alyssa Gilliam.

The EEOC in the lawsuit said Gilliam became pregnant in 2015, and Walmart denied her requests for restrictions on heavy lifting, additional breaks, and a chair to sit in while working.

The commission said Walmart refused similar requests by other pregnant workers at the warehouse, but granted them for workers with disabilities or injuries.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits workplace discrimination against pregnant women. In a 2015 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said the law requires employers to provide the same accommodations to pregnant women as it does disabled workers.


(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)