A former Momentum Solar employee is suing the company over claims she was discriminated and retaliated against due to her pregnancy.
Momentum Solar, based in New Jersey, came under fire in a lawsuit earlier this week accusing it of violating the Civil Rights Act. Specifically, the suit, which was filed by Jessica Adams, alleges the company discriminated against her due to her pregnancy, then retaliated against her when she voiced complaints about her treatment. Additionally, the suit accuses Momentum Solar of unlawful failure to accommodate.
Adams, a former employee of the company, experienced the alleged discrimination when she informed Momentum Solar of her high-risk pregnancy. It turns out her pregnancy “came with a high probability of miscarriage and the pregnancy would cause her to suffer acute physical impairments,” according to the lawsuit. Due to the risks associated with her pregnancy, Adams had to attend “bi-weekly medical appointments in order to monitor her pregnancy and ensure her health and the health of her unborn child.” She informed her manager, James Valerioti, that “she would need to make adjustments to her work schedule to accommodate the appointments.” However, Adams had yet to tell Valerioti because “due to the high-risk nature of her pregnancy, she was not comfortable announcing it until it she started showing.” Her manager approved her new schedule, which included a request to work partially from home.
Later on December 28, 2018, “after two previous attempts to formally announce her pregnancy to Valerioti were ignored, Adams emailed Valerioti and Defendant Sung Lee and, informing them of the nature of her pregnancy, and requesting accommodations be made for her pregnancy, namely, that she be allowed to work from home when needed,” according to the suit. Unfortunately, Valerioti contacted Adams later that evening informing her that her employment was terminated. He told her that “her interactions with her all-male staff, were too aggressive and that the guys were afraid of her.” He also added that Adams “had no done enough to support the team.”
As a result, Adams instantly lost her health benefits and income. In her suit, she argues Momentum Solar, Valerioti and Sung Lee are guilty of sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment. Among her allegations are similar accounts from other female employees at the company, including one where a “male employee was fired for telling a female coworker, ‘You need to be in the kitchen.‘”
As part of her suit, Adams is seeking damages for emotional distress, compensation to cover her legal fees and attorney costs, and monetary damages.
It’s important to note that Adams’ suit is not the first discrimination lawsuit filed against Momentum Solar within the last year. Back in October, an African American employee accused the company of “engaging in systemic discrimination against black workers, fostering a racially hostile work environment and retaliating against black employees who filed discrimination complaints.” The suit further alleged the plaintiff and other African American employees were regularly subjected to “racial slurs at the hands of their white coworkers, including being called ‘boy’ and the n-word.” A similar suit was also filed in May 2019 by six African American employees.