Walmart is sued by ex-worker, 21, who says bosses fired her for demanding she be allowed to pump breast milk for her baby daughter while at work
- The woman, 21-year-old Kyla Alegata, claims brass at the Florida store deemed her lactation needs ‘problematic’ before letting her go in 2021,
- Her firing came eight months after she gave birth to daughter Xighlah
- Her request for accommodations were denied by Walmart, according to the suit
- She is now seeking damages from the company in the form of back pay as well as front pay, and attorney fees for a desired jury trial
- Walmart claims Alegata was fired for other reasons, including absences, and that it tried to accomodate her needs
A young mom has sued Walmart, claiming she was fired from her job over bosses’ issues with her demands for a place to pump breast milk for her baby.
The woman, 21-year-old Kyla Alegata, claims brass at the Florida store deemed her lactation needs ‘problematic’ before letting her go in January 2021, eight months after she gave birth to daughter Xighlah Star Alegata.
Alegata says she was repeatedly harassed in the buildup to her firing, after asking managers to make good on mandated breaks where she could pump the breast milk.
The mom, who is suing the chain for discrimination, maintains she was forced to wait for up to an hour to gain access to a room designated for lactation – and that she even had to share the space with male coworkers typing on laptops as she pumped.
Alegata adds that she was denied a request for pregnancy-related accommodations after receiving a doctor’s note, with staffers at the big-box store telling her that Walmart ‘does not accept doctor’s notes.’
The mother was subsequently fired from the store, in DeFuniak Springs, in January 2021 – just two days after she pointed out bosses were violating federal law by denying her request.
She is now seeking damages from the company in the form of back pay as well as front pay, and attorney fees for a desired jury trial.
The woman, 21-year-old Kyla Alegata, claims brass at the Florida store deemed her lactation needs ‘problematic’ before letting her go in 2021, months after she gave birth to daughter Xighlah Star Alegata in May 2020
The federal lawsuit, filed July 7 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida, says that Alegata, a resident of DeFuniak Springs, was hired at the Walmart in December 2019 as a deli worker and baker.
Shortly after, in May 2020 – three months into the pandemic – she gave birth to baby Xighlah, the suit says, with the harassment allegedly commencing soon after, as she tried to begin to take breaks to pump breast milk for the newborn.
Alegata says that when she would ask to take these breaks – which are protected by federal law – the store manager and the manager of the deli department, who were not named in the suit, would purposely push back on the requests, keeping a room supposedly set aside for her locked, and making her wait at times an hour for access.
Once inside the room, Alegata asserts she was ‘constantly interrupted’ by other staffers at the store – which is situated about 65 miles from Panama City.
She further alleges that male employees were allowed by brass to work inside the room as she pumped, plugging away on laptops in plain view of the lactating mother.
While uncomfortable, Alegata allegedly bore those slights up until January 2021, after obtaining a note from her doctor requesting a more reasonable accommodation.
The mother was fired from the DeFuniak Springs store in January 2021 – two days after she pointed out bosses were violating federal law by denying her request for a private room to pump
At that point, she was told by her manager at the deli that Walmart ‘does not accept doctors’ notes.’
Fed-up with the situation, the mom alleges she brought the issue to the general manager on January 14, 2021, pointing out that by denying her request, the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
That act was amended to include protections for pregnant woman in 1978, with The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which widened the protections to cover instances of ‘pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.’
Two days later, the mom said, she was fired.
The mom, who is suing the chain for discrimination, maintains she was forced to wait for up to an hour to gain access to a room designated for lactation – and says she was even forced to share the space with male coworkers as she pumped
The lawsuit accuses Walmart of engaging in sex/pregnancy discrimination due to the alleged mistreatment, and demands Alegata be compensated for lost wages, benefits, and emotional distress for the alleged ordeal.
Alegata first filed the charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) in September, and in May of this year was granted permission to sue the store.
Brass at the big box chain, however, remain adamant that the claims are false, saying Alegata was in fact fired ‘for excessive absences,’ which they said ‘were unrelated to any breaks or protected activity.’
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said of the suit in 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’
He added that the FCHR had allegedly already ‘found it unlikely that any discrimination violating the law occurred in this case.’
Alegata, meanwhile, is demanding a jury trial.
A customer said he was almost assaulted by a manager at the DeFuniak Springs resident Ron Rich Monday – and Alegata reshared the post in agreement, saying she had similar experiences with the store’s managers
The EEOC lawsuit is not the first for the Defuniak Springs Walmart, who was subject to another suit in 2021 after the store was accused of continually allowing a male employee to ‘sexually harass at least three female employees.’
The federal filing alleged the store fired a woman who complained about the staffer’s behavior, four days after receiving the complaint, according to a press release.
The EEOC has also filed a suit against the chain as a whole in February 2022, accusing it of providing an Iowa woman with ‘an unsanitary storage closet to express her breast milk.’
The lawsuit further alleges that managers chose not to make good on a supposedly promised promotion, solely due to the fact that it had a newborn, another release from the agency asserts.
Complaints against the store also exist on social media, with one customer taking to Facebook earlier this week to write of an alleged instance at the location that saw the patron nearly assaulted by the store’s assistant manager after he leveled a formal complaint against him.
The manager, the customer, had to be restrained by other staffers at the stores after growing irate after the customer, an elderly man, reportedly complained that there were not enough registers open.
The customer, DeFuniak Springs resident Ron Rich, wrote an impassioned post recounting the experience, which transpired Monday – and on Tuesday, Alegata reshared the post, agreeing with rich and slamming the store’s managers.
‘Yea I could definitely say with my experience as well managers there aren’t the greatest,’ the mom wrote.
Alegata’s suit is currently being processed through the court system. A trial date has not been set.
Brass at the big box chain, however, remain adamant that the claims are false, saying Alegata was in fact fired ‘for excessive absences,’ which they said ‘were unrelated to any breaks or protected activity’