The American Civil Liberties Union says a North Carolina woman has reached a settlement with her employer who she claimed discriminated against her because she was pregnant. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Jamie Cole and Sava Senior Care reached an agreement through mediation.
According to the ACLU of North Carolina, the settlement includes payment for lost wages and emotional distress. Also, Sava will implement a new policy to make sure that pregnant workers get light duty and other accommodations on the same terms as other employees needing temporary job changes.
Her complaint said Cole provided personal care and services to residents at Sava Senior Care’s Brian Center in Weaverville for two years until a complicated pregnancy limited what she could do. She was taken off the work schedule. Cole never returned to work at Sava Senior Care. She later secured employment as a certified nursing assistant at another local care facility.
At the time, according to the EEOC complaint, Cole requested “light duty” accommodations, filling out a Sava Senior Care’s Reasonable Accommodation Acknowledgment form. Representatives at Sava Senior Care denied Cole’s request, saying she could not perform the essential functions of the job, since she could no longer lift 35 pounds without assistance, as stipulated in the job description.
When Jamie Cole took out an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against SavaSeniorCare in October 2014, she wondered if anyone would listen. The mother of three wanted to stand up for women everywhere when she alleged pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Even if she didn’t win, she knew she had to do right by her now 3-year-old daughter.
Now, just over one year after the EEOC said it would investigate her charges against Sava Senior Care’s Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation in Weaverville, Cole received an answer.
“I almost want to cry,” said Cole of the news. “Since I won the case, their polices are going to be changed, and that right there is worth a million bucks.” A lump sum will be paid to Cole to cover lost wages, legal fees and compensatory damages for emotional distress, she said. Sava Senior Care also has agreed to ensure it has policies in place that allow pregnant women accommodations the same way it would for people with other limitations.