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Was woman fired for using the restroom too much during pregnancy?

Treating an employee differently because he or she has a disability, is pregnant, or suffers from a serious medical condition may be in violation of disability discrimination laws or pregnancy discrimination laws.

For example, making a pregnant employee clock out every time she needs to use the restroom may be considered pregnancy discrimination in San Diego and throughout the state of California if other workers who need to use the restroom on a regular basis are not forced to clock out. This may sound like an odd example, but this allegedly happened to a former T-Mobile employee when she was pregnant three years ago.

The employee had worked at the T-Mobile Call Center for several years before she became pregnant. She was a hard worker and had no problem meeting her goals before she became pregnant. However, she began to experience medical problems while she was pregnant, and the woman needed to visit doctors twice a week. The woman’s doctor also advised her to drink plenty of water every day to make sure her baby stayed healthy. The woman followed her doctor’s advice, but this caused the woman to have to use the restroom very frequently while she was at work.

The woman claims that her supervisor told her she had to clock out every time she used the restroom, and the supervisor also requested a note from the woman’s doctor to verify that the woman was ordered to drink a significant amount of water each day. The woman complied with her employer’s requests; however, the woman was fired shortly after she returned to work after having her baby. T-Mobile claims the employee was fired because she had made a minor mistake when removing a charge from a customer’s bill.

The woman is not pursuing a lawsuit at this time, but some workers’ rights advocates have stated that the woman may have every right to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim if she can prove that no other non-pregnant worker was required to clock out in order to use the restroom after exhausting other breaks during the workday.

Source: ABC News, “Pregnant T-Mobile employee clocked out to use toilet,” Abby Ellin, May 1, 2013


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