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Walmart accused of having sexist truck driver uniforms

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The uniforms Walmart requires its truck drivers to wear amount to "blatant sex discrimination" against female workers because they only fit male bodies, a lawsuit alleges. 

In a class-action suit filed Tuesday in Alabama, Walmart truck driver Diana Webb said her ill-fitting driver uniform led her to buy garments that closely resembled the retailer's mandatory clothing, according to court documents. Webb, who joined Walmart in July 2020 as a delivery driver, asked to be reimbursed for the clothes, but the company declined, the complaint states. 

"This request was denied by her supervisors and [Webb] was told that if she was reimbursed, Walmart would have to reimburse all female drivers and that they declined to do so," the lawsuit states. 

Webb's suit argues that Walmart is breaking federal law by not offering uniforms that properly fit women. 

"Female drivers are therefore required to either suffer discomfort or purchase and launder their own pants, out of their own pocket, with no option for reimbursement in order to fulfill Walmart's employment requirements," the complaint argues.

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The retail giant does not require its drivers to wear company-provided pants, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement Thursday to CBS MoneyWatch. Webb has the garments needed to perform her job duties, he added. 

"Months before the lawsuit was filed, Ms. Webb was fitted for company-provided pants, which she now has," Hargrove said. "We continue to review our clothing offerings for male and female drivers. We take these allegations seriously and will respond in court as appropriate."

The company is one of a number of major retailers that has hired tens of thousands of new workers during the coronavirus pandemic. During the hiring spree, Walmart officials have said they are aiming to employ more women and people of color. The company employs more than 2 million people globally. 

Women represent roughly 54% of Walmart's 1.5 million U.S. workers, according to the company's most recent data. The data does not break down how many of those women drive trucks. 

Webb, 19, has repeatedly raised her concerns about the driver uniform at work, but Walmart continues to offer gear tailored only to men, according to the suit, which alleged that drivers can be fired for declining to wear the mandatory clothing. 

Webb has also filed a gender discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the complaint, she argues that Walmart's uniform practices amount to special treatment for male employees.

"I believe Walmart is discriminating against women truck drivers and possibly other female employees who are required to wear uniforms," Webb wrote. "Walmart is providing and cleaning uniform bottoms for the men, while the women are expected to either wear men's bottoms or purchase and clean women's bottoms on their own.

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