Wal-Mart Settles Pregnancy Hiring Case

December 24, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay $220,000 to a woman who claimed the company discriminated against her by refusing to hire her when she was pregnant.

The money is part of a settlement of an eight-year-old lawsuit by the federal anti-discrimination agency on behalf of Jamey Stern. Stern claimed the assistant manager of the Green Valley, Arizona Wal-Mart told her to “come back after you have the baby” when she applied for a job in 1991.

According to an announcement by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the lawsuit settlement also calls for Wal-Mart to train its employees in the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

The EEOC said Stern was initially unaware of the 1978 pregnancy law, and filed a discrimination complaint when she found out about it. EEOC filed the suit when settlement talks failed.  The litigation was subjected to repeated trials and appeals before all issues were finally resolved, the EEOC announcement said. In 1997, a jury found that Wal-Mart intentionally refused to rehire Stern because she was pregnant.

“Sometimes employers don’t take pregnancy discrimination as seriously as other kinds of discrimination. It is illegal to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC regional attorney in Phoenix in a statement. “This settlement confirms that the EEOC will not tolerate pregnancy discrimination.”

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions represents unlawful sex discrimination, the EEOC said.