A prison guard who had a history of struggling to conceive is suing her employer, one of California’s state prisons, after she lost her baby. The woman said that the loss occurred while she was trying to break up a fight between two prisoners. The woman was seven months along at the time of her accident, and, although the initial conclusion was that she had not injured the baby, she continued to have pain in the area where she fell.
Her diagnosis was a ruptured placenta that had just been too small to notice at the time of the accident. The baby died in connection with the rupture, and the woman had to deliver the child stillborn.
The reason this is a pregnancy discrimination case is because the woman had asked for light duty at the time of her pregnancy, which would have landed her in a position where she would be unlikely to fall or get hurt while handling unruly inmates. Her request, however, was denied due to a policy change, which required that those on light duty could only work in that capacity for 60 days every six months, a rule which obviously excludes pregnant employees. She was given the option to take unpaid medical leave or accept a formal demotion.
The woman is asking for both monetary damages and an injunction, or court order, requiring the prison to adopt a policy that does not require pregnant guards to choose between keeping their jobs and keeping their babies healthy. Other women who feel they have been put in this predicament by unfair workplace policies may have similar legal remedies.