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Hundreds of Walmart Employees Say They've Been Punished for Taking Sick Days

"I hate the fact we got to worry about getting fired because we caught the flu."

by River Donaghey
Jun 2 2017, 3:53pm

Photo via Flickr user Mike Mozart

A new report from worker advocacy group A Better Balance alleges that Walmart has potentially violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act by punishing its employees for taking legal sick days and time off, the New York Times reports.

A Better Balance interviewed and surveyed more than 1,000 Walmart workers about the company's absence control program—which awards disciplinary "points" for absences regardless of reason—and found the retail giant to be in violation of multiple laws.

"Giving a worker a disciplinary 'point' for being absent due to a disability or for taking care of themselves or a loved one with a serious medical condition is not only unfair," the report reads, "in many instances, it runs afoul of federal, state, and local laws."

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told the Times that the allegations are false, and that the company "understand[s] that associates may have to miss work on occasion," and that they "have processes in place to assist them."

The report's worker testimonials say differently. "I came down with a stomach flu and I had to call in due to vomiting and high fever and got a point cause of being sick," recalls an Illinois employee named Veronica. "I hate the fact we got to worry about getting fired cause we caught the flu."

Other employees have accused Walmart managers of refusing doctors' notes. Katie, an employee from Pennsylvania, said she was forced to go back to work despite her doctor telling her to stay home after having a miscarriage.

"Because of the serious and prolonged pain I was in after my miscarriage and the continued heavy bleeding I was experiencing, I went back to the doctor. The doctor told me that I had to rest for an additional week, and gave me a note stating that I needed about a week of additional recovery time. My manager wouldn't accept it," Katie says, according to the report. "I ended up receiving around six disciplinary points due to my miscarriage."

A Better Balance has previously been involved in multiple lawsuits against Walmart for mistreating employees, including one that accuses the store of discriminating against pregnant workers. In other news, the company has started asking its employees to drop off a few packages to customers on their way home in an effort to compete with Amazon, so there's that.