Fighting for Women's Equality

Client Story: Athena, Fighting Back Against Pregnancy Discrimination

October 1, 2014 | by
Athena, a mother of two and ERA client

Athena, a mother of two and ERA client

Equal Rights Advocates is proud to announce the resolution of Athena’s pregnancy discrimination case against her employer, an airport security provider.

In November 2013, when she found out she was pregnant, Athena was thrilled. She knew her job working as a security screener at an airport in California would provide her with the security she needed to care for her family and children – her union position offered paid leave, and other benefits. But in December 2013 when Athena was ordered by her doctor to moderately restrict bending and lifting while at work, she was shocked to find out that her employer didn’t intend to accommodate those doctor’s orders. Instead, not only did the employer fail to accommodate Athena’s restrictions pursuant to California law, they also forced her to take her pregnancy disability leave very early in her pregnancy, before she had a medical reason to stop working.

Athena’s employer placed her on a “leave of absence” that was scheduled to run almost eight months. Athena worried about her future. On multiple occasions, she tried to come up with alternative restrictions so they would place her back on the schedule. She also knew that, because she had been forced out on leave so early, she would use up all her paid pregnancy disability leave and FMLA leave before the birth of the child.

After almost 3 months of trying to get her employer to allow her to return, her union representative finally succeeded in getting her placed back on her normal schedule. Then he referred Athena to ERA. Unfortunately, after less than a month back at work, Athena suffered medical complications that landed her in the hospital, and on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. To add to the stress of her new medical condition, Athena’s employer had already forced her to use all her job-protected medical leave.

ERA attorneys negotiated with her employer for back pay, as well as credits for sick time and FMLA leave that she should not have had to take. Athena had her baby, Jai, and has a promise of her job back after she completes her pregnancy leave.  She is excited that she is still employed and is able to continue to provide for her family.

Women like Athena lose their jobs because of their pregnancies all too often. Notably, this is the second matter ERA has handled against this same employer.  This demonstrates that employers still do not understand the requirements of the law or they are not training their managers about employee pregnancy rights. Join Equal Rights Advocates in the fight to protect the jobs of women who want to work by making a donation to our Working Families campaign today.

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