There are several federal laws in place – the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, to name a few – designed to protect workers who have to miss work because of any number of medical reasons.
A new report released this month, however, alleges that retail giant Walmart punishes workers who attempt to take sick days for covered reasons. The report, released by the workers’ advocacy group A Better Balance, alleges that Walmart supervisors refuse to accept doctors’ notes for absences and penalizes workers who use sick days.
The group has already filed a lawsuit and a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Walmart – which employs 31,816 workers across 118 stores in Michigan – of discriminating against pregnant workers.
Punished for absences covered under federal law
One current employee said that she had to report back to work quickly after a miscarriage – while still experiencing complications – because her supervisor refused to accept hospitalization records as an excuse. Countless other workers allege that they were fired or punished for caring for loved ones or had to come in while sick for fear of retaliation.
Another woman alleges she was fired after missing too much work due to complications from her pregnancy. However, the A DA counts pregnancy complications as a qualifying condition that can warrant temporary absence from work. Under the law, the company should have worked with the employee to make “reasonable accommodations.”
Additionally, under the FMLA, employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with injuries or illnesses that they or a family member is suffering from.
Remember that you have rights
Large corporations like Walmart should invest significant resources into ensuring they are compliant with all state and federal employment laws and that supervisors in stores know how to treat employees.
When they fail, you can take action through the help of an experienced attorney that can help you evaluate your rights and options under the law.