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Pier 1 Employee Sues Company for Forced Maternity Leave
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Kimberly Erin Caselman is a sales associated at Pier 1 in San Jose. She told her boss in November that she was two months pregnant, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Her doctor recommended that she not lift objects heavier than 15 points nor climb any ladders. She is not a high-risk pregnancy, but the doctor felt this was necessary.

  
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Her employer replied accordingly, putting Caselman on eight weeks of ‘light duty.’ But, when those eight weeks ended, Caselman asked for an extension, but was told no.

A class-action lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court that claims Pier 1 Imports Inc. refused to provide Caselman with an extension to the ‘light duty’ accommodation. She was instead placed on unpaid medical leave in January.

This leave is for four months and it ends in May. She is not due until July 7.

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“It’s shocking,” Caselman said. “They are having me exhaust all my leave before I need that leave. This is stressful financially and emotionally.”

Caselman is being represented by Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Center.



Her lawyers said that in California it is illegal for employers to refuse “reasonable accommodation for an employee for a condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, if she so requests, with the advice of her healthcare provider.”

Caselman was going to work during her pregnancy, take a leave, and then return to her job. She is worried she will be fired if she does not return to work on May 20, which is when her current leave period ends.

“What’s outrageous about this case,” said Caselman’s attorney, Sharon Terman, of the Legal Aid Society, “is that pregnant workers are being forced out of their jobs when they’re perfectly able to keep working, and it’s happening at a time when they most need their income, when they are growing their family.”

Emily Martin is from the National Women’s Law Center. Martin said, “The problem that this case is responding to is unfortunately, a problem we see over and over, around the country, of women who have some sort of temporary physical restrictions because of pregnancy who are denied accommodations by their employer—even if the employer would provide those accommodations if the woman had a disability or an on-the-job injury. But because pregnancy is the reason she needs the accommodation, plenty of employers think it’s OK just to say no.”

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