An Atascadero woman has sued her employer, Albertsons, for allegedly failing to accommodate her pregnancy-related disabilities, which her attorneys say ultimately led to the death of her newborn baby last year.
The lawsuit was filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on June 26 on behalf of Reyna García, 30, of Atascadero. She is a general merchandise manager whose job requires heavy lifting and climbing.
The complaint says that despite three doctor’s notes that said Garcia had a high-risk pregnancy and shouldn’t lift more than 15 pounds, her employer failed to work with her under state laws protecting pregnant women.
Albertsons officials declined to comment on the case since it’s still in court, but in a statement company officials said it has “a proactive policy of accommodating pregnancy-related disabilities and consistently works with pregnant associates and their medical professionals.”
Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.
According to the lawsuit, Garcia was denied requests for lesser duties or to temporarily switch to another department. She continued working for the store because “she needed the income and because her health insurance was provided through Albertsons,” court documents state.
Before she worked for Albertsons, Garcia had another premature delivery at six months, according to her attorney who declined to comment further. Garcia’s medical history and the “rigorous nature” of her Albertsons job contributed to her doctor’s opinion that she was high-risk, according to the lawsuit.
In November, 20 weeks pregnant, García asked to leave work early because she was experiencing “tremendous pelvic pressure,” according to the complaint, and her manager said she couldn’t leave because the store was expecting a visit from the corporate offices that day. That night, Garcia was rushed to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton and later gave birth to a baby girl named Jade who died after 10 minutes, the lawsuit says.
Garcia took six weeks off after her baby’s birth as per the Family Medical Leave Act and “sank into a deep depression,” according to the lawsuit. When she returned to work, management stripped Garcia of her supervisorial and ordering responsibilities in a “baseless write-up” when she had been an “exemplary employee, consistently receiving positive feedback,” the lawsuit claims.
García is suing New Albertsons Inc., SuperValu Inc., and two superiors Charles Compston and Lauren Mosley alleging violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and seeking emotional and punitive damages, according to her attorneys. SuperValu Inc. is no longer a part of Albertsons but was affiliated at the time of the incident, officials said.
Garcia is a member of the grocer’s union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The organization didn’t respond to requests for comment.