Griffin woman files complaint against Walmart for anti-pregnancy bias

A Griffin woman has filed legal action against Walmart for company managers’ treatment of her, charging them with discrimination against pregnant workers.

In a filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Atlanta, Whitney Tomlinson, 30, a single mother, is asking for an unspecified amount of money from the Arkansas-based retail giant, as well as for orders that would compel different behavior by the company.

“I want Walmart to make real changes so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she said in a statement. “Walmart could have easily provided a way for me to keep working during my pregnancy, but they wouldn’t.”

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company has not been served with the charge and will respond when it is. He said the company policies on pregnant workers have always exceeded requirements set by state and federal law.

“In this instance, there was not a job available that met Ms. Tomlinson’s requested accommodations, so as a result she took a leave of absence,” he said.

Walmart has about 800,000 employees overseas and 1.5 million in the United States. As of 2015, it was the largest employer in 20 states, including Georgia.

The company, which reshaped retail in the 1980s and 1990s, has been challenged recently by the online revolution and a very aggressive Amazon. But it has fought back with its own Internet offerings and currently has annual revenues of about $486 billion.

Tomlinson said she was a packer in a Walmart distribution center when she became pregnant. At one point this year as per pregnancy progressed, she sought medical attention and a doctor recommended that she avoid heavy lifting and wrote her a note to give to Walmart.

After she brought them the note, she said she was pressured to take unpaid leave. That leave of absence meant “severe financial hardship during an already vulnerable time,” according to her filing with the EEOC.

Tomlinson has support from three legal organizations that already have filed a class-action suit against Walmart for alleged “pregnancy discrimination.”

The groups are: the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., A Better Balance, a New York-based advocacy group focused on family issues, and Mehri & Skalet, a law firm based in Washington, D.C. They acknowledge that Walmart has made some changes to its policies, but they argue that the modifications do not go far enough to comply with laws against discrimination.

After her daughter was born, Tomlinson returned to work at Walmart as a packer.


AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to 

In other Business news:

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Kempner: Arby’s eats Buffalo wings? Why the chicken wing war is on
Kempner: Arby’s eats Buffalo wings? Why the chicken wing war is on

It used to be that chicken wings didn’t do much good, even when still attached to chickens. Now, it’s the priciest part of our most important bird in Georgia. That’s kind of crazy if you think about it. A wimpy wing with the bone still in costs more than boneless breast meat? But restaurants and grocers have figured it out, which...
‘Call of Duty: WWII,’ rallying the shooter on multiple fronts
‘Call of Duty: WWII,’ rallying the shooter on multiple fronts

“Call of Duty: WWII” Rallying The Shooter On Multiple Fronts Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC Style: 1-Player Shooter (18-Player Online) Publisher: Activision Developer: Sledgehammer Games Release: November 3 Rating: M Score: 8.75/10 Concept: Explore a historically rooted campaign, spooky puzzles in zombie mode, and class-based customization...
Twitter doubles length of tweets to 280 characters

When Twitter announced in September it was testing longer tweets, some users praised the change while others feared the site would lose its sense of brevity. Now the San Francisco tech firm has officially doubled the character limit of its tweets to 280 characters. The change applies to all languages except for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese because...
Backup device offers peace of mind, sleek design
Backup device offers peace of mind, sleek design

You might not think of an external hard drive as fun, sexy or cool, but the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini can be any or all of them. I can say first hand you’ll find it useful at home, work, play, and even consider taking it on vacation. And if you wonder why I feel this way, I’ll be happy to tell you. I’ll start by mentioning probably...
CNET: Best sound bars of 2017
CNET: Best sound bars of 2017

If you’ve purchased your first wide-screen TV, you probably discovered that its built-in speakers don’t sound that good — if it came with any at all. The solution? Get a sound bar system. They can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks up to a grand or more, but it’s money well spent in any case. Here are four of the best...
More Stories