Wal-Mart’s Alleged Pregnancy Discrimination Makes the Headlines

  A proposed lawsuit against Wal-Mart is a class action that claims the company has discriminated against pregnant workers by denying requests to restrict heavy lifting, making them climb on ladders and making them do other potentially harmful tasks. Details about the Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit According to Reuters two claimants, Otisha Woolbright and Talisha Borders, filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Illinois. The class would include 20,000 women and before the company’s policy changed, an estimated 50,000 women. The lawsuit is based on the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and the argument is that Wal-Mart did not extend the same accommodations to pregnant women as it did to other disabled workers. In 2014, Wal-Mart changed its company policy and began treating pregnancy as a disability. A Wal-Mart spokesman stated that Wal-Mart has always abided by federal law and addressed pregnancy as a protected class. In a U.S. Supreme Court 2015 decision that involved the United Parcel Service, the court ruled that employers must treat pregnant women the same as other workers with disabilities or medical conditions. The claimants’ lawyers’ argue that the Wal-Mart policy did not adequately address the issue. Case Details about the Claimants Otisha Woolbright claimed when she worked in a Florida Wal-Mart, her manager told her that pregnancy was not an excuse to get out of doing heavy lifting. She claims that after she injured herself living trays that weighed as much as 50 pounds and after she asked further about the company’s pregnancy policies, the store fired her. Tallish Borders worked at an Illinois Wal-Mart. She claims she was reprimanded for having...

Sex Discrimination in the Medical Field

Sex discrimination occurs frequently in the medical field. It often manifests in the form of disparaging comments made to a female doctor about whether she intends to have children or not. According to an article in NPR, the Physician Moms Group (PMG) is a professional forum where female physicians interact and receive support from each other regarding various types of work related issues. The group has more than 65,000 members. Thousands of members’ Facebook posts have appeared in the PMG forum where mothers talk about balancing motherhood and their professions. Research Study by JAMA Internal Medicine Motivated by the extent of the PMG posts, researchers undertook a study, which was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study showed survey results of more than 6,000 physician mothers.  Professionally, these mothers encompassed a broad span, ranging from pediatricians to surgeons. The survey asked questions to determine whether workplace discrimination existed, and in particular, whether it existed regarding motherhood. The following were the published results: Of the total number of female physicians, 77.9 percent reported discrimination (4 out of 5). Nearly 66 percent reported gender discrimination. About 33% reported maternal discrimination, which included discrimination based on pregnancy, a maternity leave or breastfeeding. All of the women who reported maternal discrimination said the discrimination was based on pregnancy or a maternity leave. About 50 percent said the discrimination was due to breastfeeding. What form did the discrimination take? Disrespectful treatment (the most common) Being excluded from administrative decision-making Unequal pay and benefits compared to male counterparts Repercussions on the Medical Field Aside from the potential repercussions of discrimination lawsuits, the medical field...

Preventing Harassment from Occurring in Your Workplace

Many employers realize that preventing harassment in the workplace can mean the difference between a productive and profitable business and a business that faces legal threats and compromised profitability. Workplace harassment is a form of discrimination and can be based on sex, race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, color and religion. EEOC Study on Harassment Recently, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released the results of a study about harassment along with recommendations that employers may find valuable in preventing workplace harassment. The study found that: Workplace harassment problems have persisted. In fact, about one-third (90,000) of the charges received by the EEOC in 2015 dealt with allegations of workplace harassment. Most employees fail to report workplace harassment and instead avoid the harasser, downplay the gravity of it, try to ignore it, forget or endure the harassment. The costs of workplace harassment through actions taken by the EEOC in 2016 totaled $164.5 million. Harassment is costly for businesses. Accountability for harassment must begin at the top of the work culture with its leaders. Training for sexual harassment over the past 30 years focuses on how to avoid legal liability rather than how to change the harassing behavior. This wrong form of training has allowed the problem to persist. EEOC Recommendations for Changing the Work Culture Different approaches to training would include some techniques that have proven to be effective on school campuses. The focus is on creating a culture that prevents discrimination. Approaches include: Bystander intervention training. Workers are trained to speak up and object when they see a co-worker being harassed by another worker. This is particularly necessary for supervisors...

Fox News Embroiled in Discrimination Lawsuits

Recently, Fox News has been high profile in the media for discrimination lawsuits brought by employees who are alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The most shocking news report that hit the media and rocked the nation was about the firing of Bill O’Reilly due to sexual harassment allegations. Bill O’Reilly Discrimination Lawsuits Based on Sexual Harassment According to The New York Times , Fox settled complaints brought by five women who alleged Bill O’Reilly had sexually harassed them. The network launched an investigation into O’Reilly and discovered multiple women had reported inappropriate behavior that involved him. The Murdoch family, which controls 21st Century Fox, decided the outcome, and in particular, Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan arrived at their decision after the internal investigation. They paid $13 million to settle the women’s complaints. O’Reilly’s termination came during his visit to Italy where he met Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. O’Reilly’s Rebuttal CBS News reported that O’Reilly denied the sexual harassment allegations and has said he is confident the truth will come out. He said when it does, he expects everyone to be as shaken as he is. More Lawsuits Against Fox News The Washington Post reported that more employees have filed lawsuits against Fox News, and one of these lawsuits includes racial discrimination. A total of 13 current and former employees took separate legal actions against the news media outlet and alleged years of “hostile racial discrimination.” Emmy-winning reporter Kelly Wright was among eleven of these people who filed a class action lawsuit against the network in the NY Supreme Court. All...

What Is the New York Women’s Equality Agenda?

In October 2015, New York passed eight bills that were known as the Women’s Equality Agenda. Seven of the provisions of this law went into effect on January 19, 2016. As an employer, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under this new equal pay law in New York. What Are the Main Changes in the Women’s Equality Agenda that Affect Employers? One aspect of the Women’s Equality Agenda increases women’s protection against pay differentials based on sex by replacing the current “any other factor than sex” exception, which typically referred to seniority, merit, or a quantity/quality of production system and other non-sex related factors. The law replaces the “any other factor than sex” with “a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience.” The factor must be job-related and the exception would not be valid if the employee could demonstrate that: The employer uses “a particular employment practice that causes a disparate impact on the basis of sex.” There was an alternate employment practice that would accomplish the same business purpose and the “employer has refused to adopt such a practice.” Also, the law defines “business necessity” as a factor that bears a relevant relationship to the employment in question. Geographical Location Two comparable employees in two different physical locations that are in the same geographic region should not show a differential in pay. Right to Share Wage Information Companies cannot prohibit employees from sharing wage information, and this would allow employees to discover whether pay was equal for both sexes. Penalty for Wage Violation Previously, employees who did not receive equal...