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Wal-Mart did not discriminate against pregnant employee, 7th Circuit rules

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a woman failed to prove her claims of discrimination, retaliation and other complaints against her former employer.

Svetlana Arizanovska worked for Wal-Mart as a part-time stocker on the overnight shift. The job requires the ability to lift 50 pounds. In November 2008, she learned she was pregnant. She experienced bleeding during her pregnancy, and her doctor told her she could not lift more than 20 pounds. She was reassigned to work in the baby food and toothbrush aisles. On Jan. 27, 2009, Arizanovska learned she had miscarried.

In May 2009, Arizanovska learned she was pregnant again and told Wal-Mart that due to medical restrictions, she could not lift more than 10 pounds. She asked to be transferred to a position where she could fold clothes, but no position like that exists – employees who fold clothes also participate in stocking. The human resources and personnel manager agreed that Arizanovska should take a leave of absence. The company’s Accommodation in Employment Policy states that employees may be entitled to a leave of absence if they have a medical condition – including pregnancy – that is not a disability. The policy also states that an “environmental adjustment” in the workplace may be granted, but that “does not include creating a job, light duty or temporary alternative duty, or reassignment.”

On May 20, Arizanovska said she did not want to take a leave of absence and requested a light-duty job. She did not return to work after May 20 and miscarried about a month later. She filed suit against Wal-Mart shortly thereafter.

In Svetlana Arizanovska v. Wal-Mart Stores, Incorporated, No. 11-3387, Arizanovska claimed Wal-Mart had violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. She complained that Wal-Mart failed to accommodate her under its Accommodation in Employment Policy because of her pregnancy and/or national origin. She also claimed that Wal-Mart retaliated against her for filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Finally, Arizanovska brought several state-law claims against Wal-Mart – intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, and liability for its employees’ actions under the theory of respondent superior. The District Court granted summary judgment against Arizanovska on all her federal and state-law claims.

To support both her pregnancy and national origin discrimination claims, Arizanovska contends that two pregnant, African-American employees were treated more favorably and were allowed to work in aisles with less heavy items. But the 7th Circuit held the evidence contradicts that – neither woman had medical restrictions, and neither was assigned to light-duty work.

Arizanovska claimed that after filing a discrimination complaint against Wal-Mart following her first miscarriage, the company retaliated by placing her on unpaid leave. But the appellate panel found no evidence that the suggestion to take a leave of absence was retaliatory. It also affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment against Arizanovska on her state law claims.

 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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