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Worker Sues Employer For The Death Of Her Fetus

Worker Sues Employer For The Death Of Her Fetus

Written by Bryce Covert

Reyna García, a 30-year-old woman who works for the California grocery chain Albertsons, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the company refused to accomodate her pregnancy, which led to the death of her baby, the Huffington Post reports.

In her complaint, she says “that she presented her superiors with three separate doctor’s notes explaining her high-risk pregnancy and asking that her job duties be restricted,” the Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson reports. Her role as merchandise manager involves loading and unloading pallets of heavy goods, climbing ladders, and moving pallet jacks carrying hundreds of pounds of product. She told her store manager that she has a history of pre-term delivery, but her requests to be shifted to lighter duty at the deli counter or in customer service were denied, her complaint states. She kept working because she couldn’t afford to lose the income and health insurance.

One day last November, she asked to leave work while in pain, but her request was denied and she continued her heavy lifting duties. She went into labor that night and rushed to the hospital. There she was informed that her baby was losing fluid and sustaining brain damage. She gave birth two days later, but the baby only lived for a few minutes.

According to the suit, Jamieson writes, “Baby Jade’s death over those several minutes was the most painful thing Ms. García had ever experienced.”

One of García’s lawyers told the Huffington Post that her managers failed to fulfill their responsibilities under a California law that requires an employer to find a “reasonable accommodation” for pregnant workers. Albertsons hasn’t filed an official response to the suit and told the HuffPost, “We have no comment on pending litigation. However, our company does have a proactive policy of accommodating pregnancy related disabilities.”

García’s story, while heartbreaking, is sadly not unique. In a collection of stories from the National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance about women whose pregnancies weren’t accommodated by their employers, a worker named Yvette recounted how her manager refused to let her avoid heavy lifting when she became pregnant and “he actually responded by giving me more heavy lifting to do,” she says. The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Svetlana Arizanovska worked as a stocker for Walmart when she got pregnant, lifting heavy merchandise from pallets, but her doctor told her not to lift more than 20 pounds. The company initially put her on light duty in the toothbrush aisle but then reversed its decision. One day she started bleeding while lifting heavy merchandise, but her boss ignored her when she told him what had happened. When she went to the emergency room after her shift she found that she had lost her baby.

Other women have had less deadly but still difficult problems. Some have been forced to go on unpaid leave, missing out on income and using up the leave they would have taken after they have their babies. Others were fired or pushed out of their jobs.

These problems are widespread and growing. More than 3,700 pregnancy discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year and complaints rose 65 percent between 1992 and 2007. Women are also far more likely to work while pregnant now: nearly two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, compared to less than half in the 1960s. Nine out of ten stay on the job into their last two months of pregnancy and more than 80 percent work into the last month.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 barred discrimination on “the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” yet many of these practices persist and some have been given a pass by the courts. This is why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was re-introduced in May, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who experience pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless it would impose an undue hardship. Yet while House Republicans have found time to vote on other reproductive care, the act has yet to garner a hearing or a vote.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

 

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199 comments

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5:50PM PDT on Aug 21, 2013

I quit my job working security due to the dangerous chemicals at the job site. I was lucky to be able to do that. Some women simply aren't so lucky

6:45PM PDT on Jul 13, 2013

sad

4:11PM PDT on Jul 11, 2013

I hope she wins!
In Portugal a high risk pregnancy leave is paid in full by the Social Security and no one can fire you for that!

1:53PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Tough choice! I wound up being forced into taking unpaid leave at my job During and immediately following my pregnancy. I've wound up with a pretty hefty debt racked up because of it, something I had always been proud of not having.

It's not easy in any regard to pull double duty - mommy and employee. But still, I have to wonder... If she was a manager, then she had employees under her. Why not assign them to assist her with the tasks she could not physically manage on her own? She repeatedly went against doctor's orders, which any employer would see as good cause of further ignoring her requests.

I hope she wins her suit against the company, but also learns to stand up for herself and take better care of her and her baby's health. A low-paying job that doesn't respect it's employees is not a job worth losing your baby over. Period.

10:51AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Sorry for the spelling in my post, this darn computer some times skips.. and I don't notice. But hopefully you get the gest of what I was saying

10:32AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

LINDA - you mentioned working in a salon. . of which I did also. MMA products .. are the problem, they have huge amt of odor. If you mix an MMA acrylic powder with.. MMA monimer / liquid.. it produces MMA acrylic nails. This is what is use in most Asian salons ( 90%). It is hard, lasts.. stays on.. but it has to be broken off the natural nails and "drilled" off .. usually they use a dremil which is a wood working machine !!
I could go on and on .. I wont. The masks worn do nothing to protect the women/ men using these products.. at all. So who knows.. w/ MMA its a mess!

10:25AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

If a person is working in a grocery store, unless they are of management.. they are working for the money.. and working hard for it. Management.. sorry, most are really not "sensitive" to others needs.. even human needs. Yes , to stop working is a way out, but then.. how about the money ?
And , I do not know too many woman who .. say Oh this will hurt my baby, so .. sorry can't do it.. We are programed to be super woman ! SUPER ! All workers , elderly and women.. are programed to do what they are told, or they are NOT A TEAM PLAYER,., am I right ? yes..
As said.. with Wal Mart anything is possible, does anyone doubt that ? They have a gagle of lawyers standing by. They "discuorage" unions, and they "hire" foreign companies to make things.. the worers.. it is documented , making 17 cents an hour !! Now.. do you really think other companies such as Albertsons, Publix, Krogers, Safeway.. any of them.. are any different ? People are not allowed to "talk", they loose a job. AND.. they figure oh well, I can get another job that pays $7.50 an hour.. they don't bother to talk but to themselves or on line.

9:56AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Should have made my self more clear. I was referring to the fact that she, hence her fetus, had been breathing those fumes for nearly 9 months! I wonder how her milk tasted too, since mine was quite heavily garlic and 'oniony'.

9:43AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Years ago, I took my daughter to a nail salon for a birthday present. (Never before, or again, since I did mani-pedies in the salon where I worked briefly in Saudi) Anyway, the fumes in there were ghastly!
Having grown up in our pharmacy, I like chemical smells in general, but there were more than just polish remover and it was overpowering. The woman who worked on my daughter was heavily pregnant and all these years later, I wonder how she and her baby 'turned out'.

8:27AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Right now my call center has a lot of baby bumps. We are very lucky that we don't do any heavy lifting.

For women who are pregnant and doing physical labor I have nothing but empathy. Stand up to a boss, lose a job and health care. How many people working in physical labor can afford that? Exactly none.

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