Supervisor Limited Expectant Mom’s Bathroom Breaks
Manager had different rules for pregnant employee
Did a manager at a popular restaurant chain try to drive a pregnant employee off the job?
That’s what the woman alleged in a recent lawsuit. The case eventually went to trial and a jury sided with the worker.
Unfortunately, this woman is hardly alone in being subjected to unfair treatment at work because of pregnancy. Let’s look at the facts of this case and then discuss how the law deals with pregnancy discrimination.
No bathroom breaks without permission
Doris Garcia Hernandez was repeatedly told that she had a bright future at the Chipotle restaurant where she worked. But when she became pregnant, she claims that her hopes of moving up the corporate ladder were dashed. Instead, it became a struggle to simply keep her job.
Hernandez alleges that her supervisor limited how much water she could drink so she wouldn’t have to visit the restroom so often. When she did have to go to the ladies’ room, Hernandez claims she was required to notify all of her coworkers first. Then, she was still not allowed to visit the restroom until her manager gave his authorization.
She claims that on several occasions her manager delayed giving his permission to use the ladies’ room, including multiple times when she told him she had an urgent need to do so.
Hernandez says that when she returned from the restroom, her manager would sometimes yell at her in front of coworkers and customers. He would also question her about why she had been gone so long.
Other workers were free to use the restroom as needed and without permission, according to Hernandez. They also were not questioned about the length of time spent in the restroom.
Two sets of rules
Hernandez claims that other employees were also frequently allowed to leave work early to attend doctor’s appointments, sometimes with only a few hours’ notice.
However, Hernandez says that she wasn’t allowed that same flexibility. Once Hernandez left work early even though her boss refused to grant her request to attend a prenatal doctor’s appointment.
The next day when she arrived for work, her supervisor fired her in front of her coworkers.
Hernandez sued for pregnancy discrimination and won. She was awarded $550,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
(The case discussed here is Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill.)
Pregnant employees’ rights
Pregnancy discrimination can come in many forms. Under federal law, women may not be terminated, demoted, or subjected to any other so-called adverse employment actions due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.
There are also several federal, state, and even municipal laws that may apply to pregnant workers.
If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, it’s wise to speak with an attorney to find out about your rights.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.