FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A former Walmart employee claims the retail giant “shamed and humiliated” her for pumping breast milk at work and later fired her for filing a complaint with human resources, according to a lawsuit filed June 9 in Benton County Circuit Court.
Rebecca Bacila, who worked for the Bentonville-based company’s Global Sourcing Indirect Spend Management Group, said she was chastised for “spending too much time in the lactation room and not working enough” after she returned from maternity leave in 2015, according to court documents.
Her lawsuit alleges Walmart violated multiple federal and state statutes designed to protect employees against discrimination and retaliation, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and state labor laws regarding pumping breast milk at work.
Bacila did not immediately return messages left Thursday (June 29). Her attorney, Joshua Bailey, also didn’t respond to requests for comment.
After being told in November 2015 to leave a note on her desk indicating she was pumping, her supervisors allegedly forced her “to write her lactation schedule on a white board that took up an entire 4×4 foot wall of (her) pod … in clear view of all employees within (her) group, which removed any shred of privacy,” according to the documents.
Bacila also claims her supervisors failed to provide her a with a reasonable, private break to pump breast milk.
In March 2016, after again being reprimanded for pumping milk at work, Bacila said she filed a complaint with the retailer’s human resources division. Less than a week later, Bacila claims a supervisor and a human resources representative told her she had 60 days to find a new role within the company and escorted her out of the building, according to the documents.
Despite a 10-year work history at Walmart, Bacila said she only was offered a “temporary position at a late night shift well beneath (her) education and experience,” according to the documents.
Bacila claims she later was fired in June 2016 for “poor job performance” despite never receiving any “warning or verbal reprimand or discipline of any sort,” according to the documents. Bacila also alleges the only feedback she received was a 2016 evaluation in which she received high remarks and met employee expectations.
Ragan Dickens, a Walmart spokesman, said the company has reviewed Bacila’s claims but has been unable to verify them.
“We are committed to supporting mothers who breastfeed their children and do not tolerate discrimination for using our lactation rooms,” Dickens said. “We are proud to have nearly 50 privacy stations across our home office campus, including at least one station in every building, and we continue to add them where we can.”
Bacila’s lawsuit seeks back pay, front pay, lost benefits, compensatory and punitive damages from Walmart, according to the documents.
Bacila also notes in the complaint that she filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the organization issued her a right to sue letter.