Pharmacy and Retailer Refused to Allow a Pregnant Worker with Disabilities to Take Leave, Forcing Her to Quit, Federal Agency Says

Published 6:42 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, La. – Walgreens Co., a pharmacy and retailer, violated federal law when it refused to allow a pregnant worker with disabilities to take emergency leave to seek medical attention, forcing her to quit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a pregnant customer sales associate—who suffered from diabetes and hypoglycemia—was spotting and asked the store manager to allow her to take unscheduled, emergency leave to seek medical attention. Although the store manager and team lead could have covered for her, the store manager told the pregnant employee she could not leave until they found a replacement for her and were unable to find one. The store manager then told the pregnant employee she had already asked for too many accommodations. The customer sales associate had no option but to resign, per her doctor’s advice. She miscarried later that day.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy-related conditions and disability, and which also prohibits retaliation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-05357) after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Employers must consider an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation, including a request for leave,” said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office.

“No one should have to choose between losing a pregnancy and losing a job,” said Andrew Kingsley, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office.

“Employers must do all they can to ensure pregnant workers are afforded equal employment opportunities,” said Uma Kandan, acting director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office.

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, which is part of its Houston District Office, which has jurisdiction over Louisiana and parts of Texas.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information about pregnancy discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/pregnancy-discrimination. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.