Reyna Garcia, a worker at an Albertsons grocery store in California, brought her bosses three doctors’ notes saying she needed her job duties altered because of a high risk pregnancy. After she became pregnant Garcia told her store manager that she had a history of pre-term delivery and asked that her pregnancy be accommodated through lighter work. The store manager’s response was “I thought you said nothing was going to change?” Her requests to be moved to the deli counter or customer service were turned down. Garcia requested reasonable accommodations three times, but the requests were ignored. She had no choice but to continue working because she could not financially afford to stop and needed the health insurance due to her pregnancy. They continued to ignore her, and here’s the result that’s led her to file a lawsuit:
According to the complaint, García, a general merchandise manager at the Atascadero store, asked to leave work while in pain one day last November. But her request was turned down, and she continued heavy lifting at the store. She went into labor that night, rushed to the hospital and found out that her baby was losing fluid and sustaining brain damage, she says.
García gave birth two days later to a girl named Jade, but the baby only lived for a few minutes. According to the suit, “Baby Jade’s death over those several minutes was the most painful thing Ms. García had ever experienced.”
After about a week in the hospital and six weeks of leave following the birth and death of her daughter, Garcia returned to work to find that she’d been demoted and written up.
Why didn’t Garcia just leave the job rather than risking her pregnancy? Because not only did she need the paycheck to live on, she had health insurance and you don’t give that up during a high risk pregnancy. As horrifying as her story is, this isn’t an uncommon situation. Pregnant women often face discrimination and the choice between their health and their jobs. Congressional Democrats have introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to improve the situation, but that other party isn’t interested, leaving women like Reyna Garcia at the mercy of their bosses.