- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

WEAVERVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina woman has reached a settlement with her employer who she claimed discriminated against her because she was pregnant, the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports (http://avlne.ws/1LTjPgJ) Jamie Cole, the mother of three, 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.

The ACLU said in its statement that, during her third trimester of pregnancy in April 2014, Cole developed a high-risk condition and provided her employer a doctor’s note recommending that she not lift more than 35 pounds. Cole had suffered from preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure that can be harmful for both the mother and baby.

Because her job entailed helping patients in and out of bed and assisting them with bathing, Cole requested a temporary light duty assignment to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Cole was told by her supervisor that pregnant women “aren’t eligible for light duty,” and was forced to take five weeks of unpaid leave, the ACLU said. The baby was born in July.

The move eventually forced Cole to find work elsewhere, she said. No longer able to make the monthly payments, the reduced pay forced her to sell her car, kept her from qualifying for a mortgage and prevented her from putting together a nursery for the new baby until months after giving birth.

“I wasn’t trying to be lazy on the job,” Cole said. “It was fully stated that I could work, just no heavy lifting. I was trying to fight for what was right and what my rights were and what every other woman’s rights are. I was trying to prove a point.”

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Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com

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