Demonstrating the power of direct action, H Street Walmart manager Jack Hulme agreed to meet with a fired worker after unions and community groups turned out to support her. Arleja Stevens was fired last March for being absent five times because of pregnancy-related medical issues, including a trip to the emergency room. Stevens was denied excused absences despite providing a doctor’s notice, in violation of the DC Pregnancy Fairness Act. Yesterday, members of UFCW Making Change at Walmart, Jobs With Justice, and the OPEIU Local 2 Social Justice Committee accompanied Stevens to deliver a copy of the Act to store manager Jack Hulme, who agreed on the spot to meet with Stevens and representatives from UFCW and DC JWJ this morning. Maryland and DC both have laws granting rights to women for doctor visits and other workplace accommodations necessitated by pregnancy, and Walmart and other employers regularly discriminate against pregnant employees, the organizations charge. “I don’t like what they did to you,” one Walmart shopper told Stevens. “I just want my job back,” Arleja told her supporters.
- Bruce Wolf/OPEIU 2; photo of Arleja Stevens and her son by Virginia Rodino/OPEIU 2