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Pregnant employee required to clock out to use restroom

Any Missouri resident who has dealt with a difficult pregnancy understands that having a baby can be stressful. Now imagine if that stress is compounded by the unreasonable demands of an employer. That's what allegedly happened to one woman who claims she was the victim of unlawful workplace discrimination.

The woman, a four-year employee of a T-Mobile call center, experienced pregnancy complications that required her to drink lots of water throughout the day. The significant intake of fluids meant the woman needed frequent restroom breaks but T-Mobile policy allowed only two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch period. The woman's supervisor told her to bring in a doctor's note confirming the need for more frequent breaks, which she provided. She was then told she needed to clock out when using the restroom and clock back in when she was done. The woman ended up using vacation time to cover her breaks.

The woman's condition became worse, and she was forced to take medical leave for the last seven weeks of her pregnancy. Within just a few weeks after returning from leave, she was fired. She was told the reason for discharge was an error made on a customer account. The woman now says she does not intend to pursue legal action against her former employer, citing concern over the expense of litigation.

While most states do not have a legal requirement to provide employees breaks, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy. If the employee was being treated differently than non-pregnant employees, she may have a claim for employment discrimination. The woman, and others in similar situations, may want to consult an experienced employment law attorney to determine if there is enough evidence on which to base a claim.

Source: abc news, "Pregnant T-Mobile Employee Clocked Out to Use Toilet", Abby Ellin, May 01, 2013

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