A general merchandise manager for Albertson’s has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the grocery chain for failing to accommodate her need for light duty during her high-risk pregnancy. According the lawsuit, the 30-year-old woman requested accommodations in writing three times, only to be ignored by her superiors.
Last November, she was experiencing extreme pain while on the job but her request to leave work early was denied. Part of her job functions included heavy lifting and she continued to work that day. She was rushed to the hospital later that night in labor with her baby showing signs of distress. Her daughter was born alive but survived only minutes.
In her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, the woman alleges that Albertson’s failed to even make an attempt at determining whether reasonable accommodations could be made that would protect the expectant mother while allowing her to continue working. There was no interactive process; there was no dialogue whatsoever despite the store having multiple positions that did not involve the same amount of lifting, pushing and pulling as the woman’s did.
The merchandise manager, Reyna Garcia, exercised her right under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take time off after the birth and death of her daughter. Upon returning to work after six weeks of FMLA leave, she found out she had essentially been demoted. She was no longer a supervisor and her employer commented that she should be happy that they finally lightened her job duties as requested.
While some may wonder why Garcia stayed on the job, it’s important to understand that the decision to leave a workplace that is toxic, or in this case deadly, is not simply a matter of finding a new, better opportunity elsewhere. Albertson’s provided Garcia’s health insurance. Garcia’s job was necessary to her family’s survival and ability to thrive. She could not simply walk away despite the illegal and discriminatory behavior of her employer.
Source: Huffington Post, “Albertsons Worker Claims Chain Is Responsible For Death Of Her Baby,” June 26, 2013