ACLU Lawsuit Argues Pregnant Michigan Woman Cannot Be Forced Off the Job
Employer Refused Accommodations Similar to Those Provided to Other Employees
December 12, 2013
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DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan, along with Cary McGehee of the law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden, filed an amended complaint in a federal lawsuit today on behalf of a woman who was forced out of work after she became pregnant.
Asia Myers works as a certified nursing assistant at Hope Healthcare Center, a long-term care facility where she assists residents. Early in her pregnancy, she experienced complications and was told by her doctor not to perform any heavy lifting on the job. Despite the fact that the center had a history of accommodating workers with similar restrictions, Myers was told not to return to work until she was able to work without restrictions.
"It’s unfair to make me choose between earning a living and protecting my health and the health of my baby when I could still perform my job without doing any heavy lifting," said Myers. "I was only asking to be treated the same way as other workers who had temporary restrictions on lifting. I love my job and am a good worker. It was wrong to force me off the job."
Pregnancy discrimination is not only prohibited by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but also by a 2009 Michigan law that clearly forbids treating pregnant women differently from any other worker with similar physical limitations.
"This kind of unlawful discrimination unfairly punishes women who choose to start a family," said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. "It’s shameful that 35 years after Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, women are still being pushed out of the workplace once they become pregnant."
Myers was able to return to work after her doctor determined the complications had passed, but she suffered significant financial hardship from being out of work for a month.
"Four years ago we fought to ensure that no woman in Michigan would face the kind of discrimination that Asia endured," said Brooke Tucker, staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. "Hope Healthcare Center must be held accountable to the law so we can ensure that they will never treat pregnant workers unequally again."