As we have reported many times in the past, the Family and Medical Leave Act protects employees who need to take unpaid time off from work for medical reasons or to care for a family member. Although this law has been in place for more than 20 years, it does not stop some employers from retaliating against an employee for exercising their FMLA rights. At least that is the claim of an assembly worker who claims she was wrongfully terminated from her job at Peterbilt simply for taking time off for maternity leave.
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Texas late last month claims pregnancy and gender discrimination and wrongful termination. The plaintiff worked at the plant starting in March of 2004 through August of 2006 and then again from April 2011 through June of last year as an assembly specialist. She claims she returned from maternity leave and the next day she was terminated from her position over allegedly not being able to lift 125 pounds as part of an employment test.
Her lawsuit claims she was simply fired for taking maternity leave in violation of FMLA. The plaintiff accused the defendant of gender and pregnancy discrimination in her lawsuit and retaliation for taking a protected leave of absence. She is seeking damages for lost earnings and employment benefits, pecuniary losses and loss of earning capacity. She is also seeking damages for emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, physical distress as well as liquidated, exemplary and statutory damages.
Anyone who feels their rights as an employee have been violated, whether through employment discrimination, sexual harassment or in retaliation for some act or perceived act should consult with an employment law attorney to understand their rights. An attorney will listen to the facts of your case and explain whether you have a valid claim under state and federal laws. You can then decide whether you want to pursue a civil action against your employer.
Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Female assembly worker sues Peterbilt for gender discrimination," Michelle Keahey, Feb. 5, 2013