Sanderson Farms, Inc. in Texas was recently named as a defendant in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
For many women, pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation. From assembling a nursery and attending prenatal appointments to shopping for baby clothes and reading baby books, the experience for new parents is a rollercoaster of emotions. One thing many new moms don’t spend much time thinking about, though, is how their pregnancies will be treated in the workplace. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination happens in every industry. In fact, one woman in Texas recently filed a lawsuit against her employer because of it.
In mid-December, an employee at Sanderson Farms, Inc. (Processing Division) sued the company in the Eastern District of Texas for “pregnancy discrimination after she allegedly suffered two miscarriages after having to work long hours at a labor-intensive job.” According to the employee, “she worked in second processing to cut shoulders.” Her shift was from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. When she learned she was pregnant on March 5, 2020, she asked for accommodations because her position was very labor-intensive. Her request went unheard, and on “August 20, 2020, she suffered a miscarriage and took three days off from work and submitted a full duty release in accordance with protocols.”
In late September, she learned she was pregnant again and again asked for accommodations since her doctor deemed her pregnancy high-risk. She “allegedly pleaded with the superintendent, human resources, and the plant manager but her request was refused.” Instead, she was allegedly told, “if you cannot perform everything, you cannot work.”
Tragically, the woman experienced another miscarriage on October 16 and said “she needed to have restricted duty as she needed to undergo a surgical procedure.” However, her employer told her that “her doctor’s note was not specific enough, and was questioned about whether the procedure was actually a surgery.” In the end, she was suspended for one week over alleged attendance issues. Then, on November 3, 2020, she “presented the full duty release forms to human resources but was terminated for missing too much time from work.”
The complaint alleges the former employee was “intentionally discriminated against for being pregnant and that the defendants’ actions were willful.” The suit notes that, due to her high-risk pregnancy, she was legally a qualified individual with a disability and can sue for a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act as she was deprived of equal employment opportunities.”
At the moment, the former employee is seeking damages to cover lost wages and benefits, as well as punitive damages and “an order for the defendants to redress their violations.”