So much for empowering women, Tom Cruise. Pregnancy discrimination at Wal-Mart has apparently been revealed in a Tuesday report about the illegal treatment that pregnant workers receive at the superstore chain.
The report focuses on an 18-year-old Wal-Mart employee who was fired in 2007 allegedly for drinking from a water bottle. In her worker orientation meeting, employees were allowed to drink on the job, so long as it was only water.
But her supervisor apparently changed the rules and said that she needed a doctor’s note to drink water even though she was visibly pregnant.
The woman said that it was “silly to need a note for that” but went and got one from a doctor anyway. The supervisor then allegedly changed the rules again and told her that she would have to rely on the store’s drinking fountains when she got thirsty.
By that time, she was suffering from a urinary tract infection (common for pregnant women) and required more regular hydration. She was then told that she could either stop drinking water or be fired. She left and filed a lawsuit.
The Tuesday report showed that the minor adjustments pregnant women are required to make on the job (more bathroom breaks, water drinking, etc.) are often discouraged by employers. Even more disturbing, the lower wage jobs are apparently the most likely to fire pregnant women when they need money the most.
According to Opposing Views, claims of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace have been climbing over the past 15 years. Vice President of the National Woman’s Law Center Emily Martin says that this is due to federal laws being confusing and unclear.
When employers make concessions for pregnant workers, it is seen as a courtesy more than anything, but because of the ambiguous federal laws, many employers don’t feel the need to accommodate their pregnant workers.
What do you think of pregnancy discrimination? Have you ever felt discriminated against in the workplace for being pregnant? Sound off!
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