May 15, 2017 | 2:33 PM EDT - By Daniel Wiessner - wo former Wal-Mart Stores Inc employees have filed a lawsuit accusing the retailer of treating thousands of pregnant workers as “second-class citizens” by rejecting their requests to limit heavy lifting, climbing on ladders and other potentially dangerous tasks.
The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois on Friday by Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright, who say that until 2014, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart had a company-wide policy that denied pregnant women the same accommodations as workers with other disabilities.
The class could include at least 20,000 women and possibly up to 50,000 who worked at Wal-Mart while pregnant before the policy change, according to the lawsuit.
The company in a statement provided by spokesman Randy Hargrove denied the women's claims and said Wal-Mart's pregnancy policies "have always fully met or exceeded both state and federal law." The company said a separate anti-discrimination policy it maintains has long listed pregnancy as a protected status.
"Walmart is a great place for women to work," the company said.
Borders and Woolbright say that Wal-Mart's old policy violated a federal law requiring employers to treat pregnancy as a temporary disability and provide work accommodations to pregnant women. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 2015 case involving United Parcel Service, said employers cannot treat pregnant workers differently from those with other disabilities or medical conditions.
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