Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., No. 21-1690 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Some jobs at Walmart Distribution Center #6025, required workers to handle boxes weighing 30 pounds or more. Walmart's “Temporary Alternate Duty” Policy (TAD) offered light duty to those workers injured on the job who wanted to keep working and earning their full wages while complying with any relevant medical restrictions. Walmart says it designed the TAD Policy to reduce overall costs, including for Workers' Compensation, while improving employee morale. During the relevant time period, Walmart did not offer light duty, under the TAD Policy or otherwise, to pregnant workers or to workers who were injured off the job. Pregnant workers with lifting or other physical restrictions related to pregnancy had to go on leave. After hotly-contested discovery and related sanctions, the court granted Walmart summary judgment in the EEOC's suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e(k), 2000e-2(a)(1).
The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Walmart offers evidence that the purpose of the TAD 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; compliance with a state workers’ compensation scheme is a neutral reason for providing benefits to employees injured on the job but not pregnant employees.The court upheld the imposition of discovery sanctions.