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Walmart hit with lawsuit, accused of firing a Florida mom who claims managers harassed her and denied lactation accommodations

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/14/2022 insider@insider.com (Jordan Hart)
Walmart. AP © AP Walmart. AP
  • A Florida woman alleges she was forced to pump breast milk in front of male coworkers.
  • Her request for accommodations were denied by Walmart, according to the lawsuit.
  • Another woman filed a similar suit against Walmart in February.

A Florida woman is suing Walmart for discrimination after her termination in 2021, saying that as a new mom, she was harassed and her lactation needs were ignored leading up to the firing, according to the lawsuit.

Kyla Alegata is accusing Walmart of failing to provide reasonable accommodations for her to pump milk during work in a July suit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The lawsuit, which describes Alegata as an "excellent worker," says the woman started in 2019 as a deli and bakery clerk at the DeFuniak Springs location, about 65 miles from Panama City. But it claims she began getting "harassed" by her managers  after giving birth in 2020, the Miami Herald reports

Alegata's lawsuit alleges that managers began harassing her when she tried to take breaks to pump breast milk, and made her wait up to an hour before they unlocked the room designated for lactation. It says she was constantly interrupted and claims that at times Alegata would have to share the space with male coworkers while she pumped.

After submitting a request for pregnancy-related accommodations via a doctor's note, she was denied and told Walmart "does not accept doctor's notes," the lawsuit says.

She was fired in January 2021 just two days after pointing out that denying her request violated  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, according to the Miami Herald. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin," according to the EEOC, which enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on those factors as well as pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation.

Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesperson, provided McClatchy News with a statement. "We support our associates by providing accommodations every day and believe store management provided (the woman) with the necessary breaks to express milk in a secure, clean and private area," it said.

He added that Walmart fired Alegata "for excessive absences that were unrelated to any breaks or protected activity," according to the Miami Herald.

Along with the EEOC, she is seeking damages in the form of back pay, front pay, and attorney fees, and a trial by jury. 

The Defuniak Springs Walmart was subject to another EEOC lawsuit in 2021 after the store was accused of continuing to allow a male employee to "sexually harass at least three female employees." The suit claimed the store fired a woman just four days after she complained about his behavior, according to a press release.

The EEOC filed a suit against the retail giant in February 2022 accusing it of providing an Iowa woman with "an unsanitary storage closet to express her breast milk" and failing to promote her because she had a newborn, a release from the agency says.

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