When you think of workplace discrimination in Texas, you may think about race being the main issue. However, women are struggling due to policies around pregnancy; these Walmart employees think that a new policy that aims to protect their wages simply won’t go far enough to protect them. If you’ve ever had to take an unpaid maternity leave and believe it was unfair workplace discrimination, this may interest you.
The April 8 report claims that one woman was forced to take unpaid leave when her pregnancy was reportedly high-risk. Walmart told her that there were no light-duty jobs available for her, so she had to be forced out of her job until she was fit to return. The woman claimed that her husband had to take over by doing 18-hour or longer shifts just to pay their bills. When their daughter arrived, he wasn’t there much, and she believes this had a direct impact on their relationship.
So what will Walmart do about these medical issues that result in people being put on leave without pay? Walmart has changed its policies to include accommodations for disabilities of pregnant women. That means that people who are struggling with high-risk pregnancies or other hardships will receive reasonable accommodations and possibly qualify for temporary disability payments.
However, women who don’t suffer hardships during pregnancies may not be protected by this change. One woman claimed that even though she could do her job, she was forced to take unpaid leave. Her doctor had ordered her not to lift more than 25 pounds and to stay off ladders, but she reported that it wouldn’t have affected her job at all. Despite this, Walmart allegedly forced her out three months before her baby’s birth.
The new policy is allegedly unclear, and that means that healthy workers may slip through the cracks. It’s hoped that if the choices of the company are challenged by women and women’s groups that it will change them to accommodate all pregnant women. Some states already have passed laws to protect women with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, like in Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas, so if the company is in violation of those laws, then there could be harsh penalties.
Source: Think Progress, “Pregnant Workers At Walmart Fear The Company’s New Policy Won’t Go Far Enough To Protect Them” Bryce Covert, Apr. 08, 2014