A young woman in Nashville, Tennessee took legal action against Kroger, a large grocery chain with nearly 100 stores and 12,000 employees, for pregnancy discrimination.
The young woman worked at Kroger for two years and had a “difficult” pregnancy in 2014. When she returned to work, following the advice of her doctors, the woman asked to avoid heavy lifting. Kroger management at the Tennessee store refused to make reasonable accommodations for this employee. Instead, Kroger suddenly placed the woman on unpaid leave. This caused the new mother to lose her apartment and move back in with her mother. The Kroger store manager stated that the corporate policy did not allow employees to work with medical restrictions. The only corporate exception was for employees who suffered “on-the-job” injuries.
Legal Action Necessary to Spark Change
A class action lawsuit was filed against Kroger in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. This suit was filed even after Kroger claimed an “inadvertent mistake” was made in the young mother’s case and the company allowed her to return to work. It is admirable that Kroger acted and allowed the young woman to resume making a living, but the company has yet to change its policy. Therefore, the class action suit sought an important change in Kroger’s corporate policy, to enable all pregnant employees to receive similar workplace accommodations.
Pregnancy Discrimination Violates Federal Law
The class action lawsuit alleged that Kroger’s policy of only making accommodations for injured employees violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law states that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other non-pregnant persons.
Kroger’s current workplace policy is discriminatory in that pregnant workers are forced to take unpaid leave or go on short-term disability, which also causes an automatic reduction in pay. This action creates undue stress and unease during a vital time where the woman is trying to juggle work and child bearing responsibilities. This unfair policy often results in young women putting their health at risk by not complaining about lifting heavy objects, or working extended hours, while pregnant, or shortly after a pregnancy. Simply put, pregnant employees at Kroger, or any other establishment, should not be forced to choose between their health and their careers, as stated in the class action complaint.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Discrimination Attorney for Legal Advice
Pregnancy discrimination is wrong, plain and simple. Pregnancy is a blessing and a foundational component of our society. When a woman is subjected to pregnancy discrimination, it has the potential to cause a tremendous amount of stress, as well as create a financial burden for the mother and her family. It is important to understand and protect your rights. Contact Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., at (954) 527-0570 to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale Discrimination Attorney.