Wal-Mart Accused of Punishing Workers for Sick Days
A report released last week accuses Wal-Mart of routinely refusing to accept doctors’ notes and penalizing workers who need to take care of an ailing family member. The report was filed with the employment commission by a worker's group called A Better Balance on behalf of Arleja Stevens, a Wal-Mart employee who said she was fired after missing too many shifts because of complications from her pregnancy. The report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 employees, accuses Wal-Mart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, among other worker-protection laws, as well as discriminating against pregnant workers. Wal-Mart said that it had not reviewed the report but disputed the group's conclusions.
Total Retail's Take: Some of the accounts in the report — including one involving a female employee who said her miscarriage almost cost her a job at a Wal-Mart store last fall — do not reflect favorably on the big-box retailer, especially at a time when the company is trying to project a more worker-friendly image. For example, while Wal-Mart has long been known for its penny-pinching attention to detail and its opposition to organized labor, in the past few years the retailer has made concessions to its workers, including raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour and pledging to invest heavily in employee training.