ILNews

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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

ADVERTISEMENT