Pregnant Woman Fired For Being Unable To Work Overtime, Which Is Cruel AND Illegal
The New York Times reports that a pregnant woman, Angelica Valencia, was fired from her job working machinery at a New York potato-packing factory after her doctor advised her to only work 8 hours days. She’d previously had a miscarriage and her pregnancy was deemed high-risk. But her employer, Fierman Produce, insisted that she work overtime, despite a note from her doctor instructing otherwise. So how did her bosses respond? Did they nod sympathetically, offer her extra breaks and a place to rest, and tell her to take it easy?
Nope. They fired her. *insert rage face emoji here* No one’s surprised, right? This kind of horrible crap happens to women all the time, even though in New York it’s illegal to discriminate or terminate someone’s job due to pregnancy. As the Times points out, NYC recently adopted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which protects women who need changes on the job due to their pregnancy. (ALL THE CLAPS) But Valencia’s company would only let her keep her job if she provided a “full duty release” (which is a note saying she can’t work at all). Here’s how it went down:
In August, she said, her supervisors insisted that she work overtime. Ms. Valencia felt so ill after two lengthy shifts that she went to the hospital and then to her doctor, who gave her the letter that she handed to her boss.
The response from the company came at about 9:30 a.m., when she was handed a letter written by Bob Ferla, the operations manager.
“Unfortunately, we as a company are not able to allow you to continue work,” wrote Mr. Ferla, who warned that her high-risk pregnancy could put her “at risk” in a work environment that was fast-paced, was very physical and involved machinery.
“Please understand we need a ‘full-duty release’ from the doctor,” he added, if she wanted to continue to work.
Ms. Valencia said she begged her managers to excuse her from overtime as her doctor had recommended. She pointed out that the company’s busy season typically ended in September, and that overtime was rarely needed during the rest of the year.
But her managers insisted that she could not work without a full-duty medical clearance. So Ms. Valencia turned in her company identification and wept as she started the long commute home.
Valencia is now working with an advocacy group to get back the money she lost from losing her job, where she made $8.70 an hour. But, as the Times notes, it’s often low income women who are pushed out of jobs they desperately need, by employers who are straight up discriminating against them solely because they’re knocked up. In short: this kind of treatment is bulls**t. Women deserve to not only have the right to work, but to modify their jobs so that they may work safely. Firing women is not the answer – changing how we treat our pregnant works is.