Kroger is facing a class-action federal lawsuit that claims the major grocery store chain discriminated against pregnant women in middle Tennessee.
Two years ago, Jessica Craddock, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, says she was working in Kroger's deli department when she was pregnant with her now two-year-old son.
“My baby dropped in my cervix due to lifting,” Craddock told NewsChannel 5.
After that, Craddock’s doctor told her she couldn't lift more than 10 pounds.
She says Kroger then put her on light duty in the deli, but after two weeks, Kroger told her she'd have to go home without pay, and she couldn't come back to work until she could lift heavy boxes again – one of her job requirements.
“It was unexpected, it was stressful,” Craddock said. “I didn't even know if I was going to be able to come back to work, or how I would come back to work.”
Craddock returned to work, but only after being out seven weeks on unpaid leave, according to the class action lawsuit Craddock filed in federal court this week.
The lawsuit says Kroger violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, because Kroger provided work accommodations to other employees with on-the-job injuries, but didn't permanently provide accommodations to Craddock. She says that forced her to choose between earning income and keeping a healthy pregnancy.
“I was already at risk of miscarriage, so if I would have kept on, [my son] wouldn't probably be here today,” Craddock said.
Craddock's lawsuit comes after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year against UPS, opening the door for pregnant women to sue their employers if they're not given work accommodations, but other employees are.
Brandon Hall, an employment law attorney who's not a part of Craddock’s lawsuit, says he thinks other companies nationwide will start changing because of the Supreme Court ruling.
“When that precedent comes down, you start seeing these lawsuits, corporations understand they need to modify their policies, or otherwise they're going to subject themselves to liability,” Hall said.
Craddock says she wants Kroger to change its pregnancy policies, not just for her, but also for others just like her.
Kroger released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“We generally do not comment on pending legal matters. Kroger is proud to be the employer of choice for over eight thousand middle Tennessee residents and we are committed to their health and well-being."