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Walgreens Pays $205K in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit


Walgreens has agreed to a $205,000 payout over allegations of pregnancy discrimination. In a detailed 11-page legal filing at the U.S. District Court for Western Louisiana this past month, attorneys from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claimed that Walgreens breached the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Walgreens to Pay $205k & Implement New Training Programs

On December 2nd, 2020, pregnant Walgreens worker Jane Doe requested permission from her boss to visit a doctor's office after noticing spotting during her shift. Despite her need for medical attention, it is alleged that her supervisor denied her request due to staffing issues and accused her of seeking excessive accommodations. Doe quit her job immediately to seek medical attention but miscarried later that day.

More than three years after the incident, Walgreens will pay $205,000 to resolve the allegations. Additionally, as part of the agreement, Walgreens is required to adopt a two-year consent decree that mandates comprehensive training for employees and supervisors in 10 cities.

This training will cover issues related to:

  • Pregnancy-related discrimination
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • The company's policies on anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation

Furthermore, Walgreens must consistently report to the EEOC regarding any complaints of pregnancy and disability discrimination received at the implicated stores, ensuring accountability and adherence to the decree.

Walgreens Management Failed to Accommodate Pregnant Worker's Needs

According to the complaint filed by the EOOC, Walgreens hired Doe as a customer sales associate on September 17th, 2020, at one of its Alexandria, LA stores. Within a month, Doe informed her supervisor that she was under a doctor's care due to weakness and requested permission to eat during work hours. On October 27th, she disclosed her pregnancy to the company.

On November 1st, Doe went to a doctor's appointment in the morning and later informed her store manager via text that she could not complete her shift due to lightheadedness and low blood sugar. Another manager had denied her a break and requested to snack while working. The store manager allegedly instructed Doe to return for inventory and warned that not showing up could be considered "job abandonment." They also requested a doctor's note to verify her blood sugar condition and any necessary work modifications.

The following day, Doe submitted a doctor's note that verified her diabetes diagnosis and recommended she be allowed to snack during her shifts. The situation remained incident-free for a month. However, on December 2nd at 7 a.m., Doe discovered she was spotting after a bathroom break. She notified the shift leader and expressed the need to leave but was advised to wait for the manager's approval.

While waiting, Doe contacted her doctor. Upon the manager's arrival, she requested to leave due to the spotting. Despite employees' permission to leave for emergency situations and with supervisors available to fill in, the store manager told Doe to stay until they found a replacement, according to the EEOC.

The store manager informed Doe that they couldn't find a replacement. Furthermore, the manager allegedly remarked that she had hired Doe before she became pregnant, suggesting that Doe's pregnancy now made her unsuitable for the company, and that she requested too many accommodations.

At 8:19 a.m., Doe received a message from her doctor advising her to come in. Upon conveying her doctor's message and the manager's refusal to allow her time off, Doe decided to resign in order to seek medical attention. However, Doe miscarried later that day.

Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Pregnancy discrimination can manifest in several ways, and Doe's case is only one out of the many that occur. Signs of pregnancy discrimination can be subtle and challenging to pinpoint. Nevertheless, recognizing these signs is the first step toward addressing and combating discrimination.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Refusal to hire pregnant applicants
  • Firing or demoting a pregnant employee
  • Treating a pregnant employee differently than other temporarily disabled employees
  • Denying a promotion due to pregnancy
  • Denying an employee any terms, conditions, or privileges due to pregnancy

If you notice any of these signs or feel you're being treated unfairly due to pregnancy, it's essential to know that you're not alone and that there are steps you can take to protect your rights.

How Do You Deal with Pregnancy Discrimination at Work?

Dealing with pregnancy discrimination starts with knowing your rights. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it's illegal for employers to discriminate based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment.

Here's what you can do if you find yourself facing this type of discrimination:

  • Document everything: Keep detailed records of instances of discrimination, including emails, messages, and notes of verbal conversations.
  • Report internally: Review your employer's policy and if you feel safe doing so, follow the procedures for reporting discrimination.
  • File a complaint with the EEOC: You can also file a complaint with the EEOC. This is also known as a Charge of Discrimination and requests the EEOC to take action.
  • Contact an attorney: The final step is to contact an experienced pregnancy discrimination lawyer. They can listen to your story, determine if you have a case, and help you pursue the justice you deserve.

Consult with Our Team

If you or a loved one has experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, our dedicated team at Shellist Lazarz Slobin can help. We understand the complexities and sensitivities surrounding these issues and are committed to protecting your interests. Our team offers personalized support and can work tirelessly to seek effective solutions.

Get in touch with us at (713) 352-3433 or fill out a form to begin.

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