Just a few short months ago, Walmart introduced a new policy that was supposed to give pregnant workers added protections under a disability policy. But it hasn't taken long to find out that concerns about the new policy's vague language
and possible loopholes were absolutely merited. Candis Riggins, a Walmart worker who lost her job after her managers refused to reassign her
to work she could do while pregnant, found that out the hard way.
Riggins told Bryce Covert she asked her managers to be allowed to work as a cashier during her pregnancy, since her regular maintenance job involved exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals and lifting and carrying cleaning supplies. She had good reason to ask:
... the effects of the chemicals landed her in the hospital “multiple times,” she said. It got so bad one morning that she passed out at the bus stop on the way to work and was taken to the hospital. “They asked me what kind of work I do,” she said. “They said this is basically the cause, taking in all of these chemicals and fumes you shouldn’t be taking in, basically breaking me down while I was pregnant.”
But she wasn't given other work, despite asking again and again and watching the store hire cashiers, passing her over. So she kept getting sick:
Despite the sickness, she kept going to work as much as she could. “I was really afraid of losing my job,” she said. “I would go in and try to push through it and put on this face like I’m okay.” She didn’t even tell her manager about the pregnancy for a while because she was afraid she would end up fired. “I’ve seen plenty of other women there that were pregnant, but after a couple of months I didn’t see them again… They were basically terminated because of pregnancy,” she said.
But some days she couldn’t do it. “I called out a couple of times,” she said. “I just couldn’t go in and put myself through that.” She says every time she stayed home she was told by a manager that it was okay to do so. “Every time I would call out I would speak to the manager, they would inform me that it was okay, they understood I was pregnant,” she said.
And then they fired her for her absences. She and her children were evicted from their apartment recently. A Better Balance, the National Women’s Law Center, and Mehri & Skalet, PLLC are helping her press Walmart to give her back her job
and pay her back wages, as well as to comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it comes to other workers.
Walmart likes to brand itself as family friendly, but its treatment of pregnant workers is anything but.