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|Denying light duty to
did not violate Title VII
EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East (7th
Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 08/18/2022
The EEOC sued
Walmart claiming that the denial of temporary light duty to
pregnant employees violated Title VII and the Pregnancy
The trial court granted summary
judgment to Walmart, and the 7th Circuit affirmed.
offered temporary light duty to employees who were injured on the
job, but did not offer similar light duty to employees who were
pregnant or who were injured outside of their work for Walmart.
The EEOC argued that by accommodating all workers injured on
the job, and denying all pregnant women a similar accommodation,
Walmart engaged in sex discrimination.
The 7th Circuit
applied the three step framework set out in Young v. United Parcel Service,
Inc., 575 US 206 (2015).
If a plaintiff can make a prima facie
case,the burden shifts to the employer, at step two, to offer a
“legitimate, nondiscriminatory” justification for denying the
A plaintiff can overcome summary judgment at the
third step by “providing sufficient evidence that the employer’s
policies impose a significant burden on pregnant workers, and that
the employer’s ‘legitimate, nondiscriminatory’ reasons are not
sufficiently strong to justify the burden,” “giv[ing] rise to an
inference of intentional discrimination.”
evidence that the purpose of its policy is to implement a worker’s
compensation program that benefits Walmart’s employees while
limiting the company’s “legal exposure” and costs of hiring people
to replace injured workers.
As to step two, the 7th Circuit said,
"Offering temporary light duty to workers injured on the job
pursuant to a state worker’s compensation law is a 'legitimate,
nondiscriminatory' justification for denying accommodations … to
everyone else, such as individuals not injured on the job,
including pregnant women.”
Finally, as to step three, the court said that the
EEOC could not carry its burden of showing that the employer's
reasons were not strong enough to justify the burden on pregnant
workers. Walmart provided consistent rationale for its policy, and
the court found that the burden on pregnant employees was not
significant enough to outweigh Walmart's justifications.
Therefore, the EEOC was unable to create an
inference of intentional discrimination.
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