April Roller worked at National Processing of America, a call center company headquartered in Kansas, and was promoted to management in January 2011, less than six months after she was hired. (According to her LinkedIn entry, she worked there from August 2010 to November 2011.) She’s suing the company in federal court for pregnancy discrimination.
Poor Treatment in the WorkplaceRoller claims the company harassed her throughout her pregnancy, delaying paperwork for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and reprimanding her for too-frequent bathroom breaks, which she took, she said, because of her morning sickness.
The company “accommodated” her morning sickness by offering her a bigger wastebasket so she could vomit at her desk instead of losing time to go to the bathroom. Roller complained about the comment, according to court documents, “but nothing was done nor any apology provided to plaintiff.” Instead, she received more write-ups “to further discriminate against her and in retaliation for her complaint about the rude comment pertaining to her pregnancy condition.”
Documents claimed Roller’s manager also told her the company did not “'pay [her] to pee,' objecting to plaintiff's necessity to use the bathroom when plaintiff experienced nausea or dizziness due to her pregnancy conditions. Defendant's manager claimed to plaintiff it was not 'fair to other employees' for plaintiff to take excessive bathroom breaks.”
Roller also was reprimanded for wearing special shoes because her feet were swollen, according to the documents.
According to LinkedIn, Roller is currently an owner at Rollin Photos, a family business she founded more than a decade ago, in May 2001.
The Pregnancy Precedent
In a pregnancy discrimination complaint filed last year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a medical staffing company ended up having to make a $148,000 payout to a bookkeeper.
In this case, the company owner treated Roxy Leger's pregnancy as an extended April Fools joke, refusing to look at the ultrasound she brought in, describing her maternity leave as “a vacation,” and saying the leave could not be longer than two days. (The law entitles her to six to eight weeks.) Leger eventually was fired.
A U.S. District Court judge found in favor of Leger, saying the “circumstances leading up to HCS’s discriminatory termination of Leger were inherently humiliating and caused Leger substantial emotional distress. The circumstances surrounding Leger’s notification of termination were equally degrading.” The judge said her firing had been done “with malice and reckless indifference to [her] federally protected rights.”
Said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney for the Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, "Some employers appear to have gotten the news later than others: Taking adverse actions against employees on account of pregnancy has been a violation of federal law for years. It won’t wash—you just can’t do it.”
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