Labor Law: Woman truck driver sues

20150817_MBZ_KAREN

RTD Metro Business law columnist, Karen Michael.

A female delivery driver for Walmart filed a federal class action lawsuit against the retail chain claiming that work pants issued to women only fit male drivers.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Alabama earlier this month, Diana Webb alleges that drivers are required to wear uniforms consisting of pants and a shirt while working on their jobs. Those who fail to comply with the uniform requirements can be subject to termination, she alleges.

Webb claims that Walmart provided her an entire uniform to include pants. Walmart also provides for laundry service of the uniforms.

When issuing the pants, she said Walmart only provides men’s pants for both male and female drivers. Webb alleges the pants are “uncomfortable and poorly fitting” for female drivers and that it was “impossible to wear men’s pants provided by Walmart.”

Specifically, she alleged that the pants “fit only male employees due to anatomical differences between the sexes.”

Webb claims she was harmed because women have to “either suffer discomfort or purchase and launder their own pants” with no option for reimbursement to fulfill Walmart’s employment requirements. Walmart will not launder pants purchased by employees.

Webb accuses the retail giant of sex discrimination because “Walmart’s nationwide practice is to provide pants that only fit their male drivers, while requiring only female employees like the plaintiff employed by Walmart and other females similarly situated, wherever, located, to purchase and launder their own uniform pants.”

Webb alleges she purchased her own pants at her own expense.

Before filing her charge of discrimination and subsequent lawsuit, Webb alleges she addressed her concerns with Walmart human resources and supervisors on several occasions, but her requests were ignored.

In a statement, Walmart claims to have provided Webb with pants months prior to the filing of the lawsuit.

Webb’s attorney, in a statement, said that Walmart should reimburse Webb $300 to $400 for the cost of the pants she purchased.

When employers discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace, these are the types of everyday workplace needs that must be considered.

For example, a female police officer said in a recent workplace audit how much she loved the job, but only asked that the bullet proof vests be fitted for women. She said the uniform as a whole was meant for males.

Organizations need to determine how best to make the workplace a positive experience for all workers. Whether it’s dress code or working conditions, diversity and inclusion are about much more than hiring and having representation.

Companies should be continuously evaluating how best to give all employees a sense of belonging, and this is especially true where the jobs are being filled by those not traditionally held by that demographic, whether national origin, religion, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or any protected characteristic.

The employer’s efforts need to be intentional. Seeking input from the employees can be a positive opportunity to evaluate the work environment objectively and make needed change.

In this case, Walmart now faces a federal class action lawsuit over something so simple.

Sometimes just listening and responding to an employee can go a long way to creating an inclusive work environment where all employees can feel a sense of belonging.

Karen Michael is an attorney and president of Richmond-based KarenMichael PLC and author of “Stay Hired.” She can be reached at stayhired@stayhired.net.

Source

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