- Raley's has agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle a class action lawsuit claiming that the grocer violated California law by refusing to accommodate pregnant workers even though it allowed temporarily disabled employees to go on light duty (Borrego, et al v. Raley's Family of Fine Stores, No. 2015-00177687 (Superior Court for the State of California, County of Sacramento, Jan. 17, 2020)).
- One of the named plaintiffs, Lucianna Borrego, said in court papers that she "noticed a negative change in her manager's conduct and attitude toward her" after she announced she was pregnant. Borrego said she was told that she would not be allowed to "play the pity card just because she was pregnant" and that the employer did not accommodate pregnant women. Her requests for accommodation were denied even though she provided a doctor's note stating that she could work full-time but with certain work restrictions, and she was placed on unpaid leave.
- During this time, the employer had a "Return-to-Work Program," allowing employees who were injured on the job to perform modified duties or to have a modified work schedule for up to six weeks, according to settlement documents citing the plaintiffs. The settlement includes all employees who were on a pregnancy-related leave of absence from Nov. 1, 2012 through July 8, 2015 — about 325 to 350 women.
Several states and local jurisdictions have laws in place requiring that employers accommodate pregnant women. Earlier this year, for example, Oregon's pregnancy accommodation law went into effect. The law requires Oregon employers with six or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants who have limitations related to pregnancy unless doing so imposes an undue hardship on the employer.
Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, "is a prohibited form of sex discrimination," according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't itself require accommodations, it does require that employers treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same as non-pregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
Pregnancy bias is a top enforcement priority for the EEOC, the agency said in April 2018. Walmart paid $14 million last year to settle class action claims it denied pregnant workers benefits given to similarly situated workers. Similarly, UPS paid $2.25 million in September 2019 to settle EEOC claims it denied pregnant women light duty.