Firing pregnant workers who can’t perform certain job duties like lifting heavy objects is against the law. But that didn’t stop a pair of FedEx contractors from terminating pregnant delivery driver Sarai Alhasawi when she asked for accommodation during her pregnancy in 2018.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Colmar Inc. and DB Delivery and their owner Collin Heacox for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the state’s 2017 Healthy Starts Act, which says pregnant employees must be given accommodations like additional restroom breaks and having to lift no more than 17 pounds.
According to court documents, when Alhasawi requested that she not have to lift heavy boxes assigned to her delivery route, her manager said other pregnant workers had done so without accommodation. The manager ultimately fired Alhasawi via text message.
“Don’t give me that crap that you can’t work because you’re pregnant,” she wrote in one of the texts. “Either you don’t want to or you want to but it doesn’t matter anymore because you’re no longer employed with us.”
After she lost her job, Alhasawi faced eviction and moved her family across the state to stay with relatives.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh ordered the contractors and their owner Collin Heacox to pay Alhasawi $41,672.36. The court also required delivery companies to obtain training on employees’ rights and provide their employees with information about the law.
“A pregnant employee does not have to choose between her job and her health,” Ferguson said in a news release. The “ruling communicates to employers around the state that my office will ensure pregnant employees are protected.”
Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us for a free consultation about your L&I, workers’ comp, wrongful termination, or other employment law claim.