Orlando woman sues Aeropostale, claims pregnancy discrimination
Updated On: Feb 07 2013 11:38:56 PM EST
An Orlando woman is suing the popular clothing store Aeropostale, claiming they fired her because she got pregnant.
Codie Nelson worked at the Aeropostale store at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee for about four months before she got pregnant.
Nelson said the harassment began once store managers found out she was expecting and claims she was fired in November 2011, just days after giving birth to her baby boy.
Nelson alleges that her termination was the culmination of months of harassment that began when she was nine weeks pregnant and started having cramps at work.
"I pulled the store manager aside and let her know that I am pregnant," said Nelson.
Nelson said she then told the manager, "I haven't told anybody yet because I was waiting, but the reason I am telling you now is because I think I need to leave. I need to go to the hospital."
According to Nelson's lawsuit filed in November 2012, after that, store managers repeatedly questioned Nelson as to whether the company was a good fit, telling her that "not all jobs are for everyone" and that maybe she "would be happier with a different company."
Nelson claims at one point, a manager told her "this is not the kind of job for a pregnant person" and accused her of being "emotional" because of her pregnancy.
Nelson said the company also denied her bathroom and water breaks, even though her doctor asked that she be allowed to use the restroom every two hours.
Working in retail for the majority of her life, Nelson said she's never experienced anything like this. She said due to the ongoing harassment, she was constantly in fear of losing her job.
"It was discriminatory, it was harassing and it was retaliation," said Greg Owens, Nelson's attorney.
Owens said the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
In a statement to Local 6, Aeropostale's attorney, Edward Slezak, said this is not true.
"Aeropostale believes the evidence that will be presented in court will tell a very different story from the allegations in Ms. Nelson's complaint," said Slezak. "Not only does Aeropostale deny that it has any liability for the allegations in this lawsuit, Aeropostale made repeated efforts to accommodate Ms. Nelson's needs. Aeropostale affirms that it is an equal opportunity employer who does not discriminate unlawfully against pregnant women or any other employee. Aeropostale will rely upon the court system to resolve this lawsuit and asks your viewers not to make any judgments until the facts based on admissible evidence are proven in court."
For Nelson, who said the company also cut her hours from forty to four until she was ultimately let go, she's not backing down.
"I just was so upset because I knew at that point I didn't have a job," said Nelson. "I had a new baby. I knew it was coming. It was always in the back of my mind and you know, ever since then it's been a struggle and I knew it would be."
Nelson's attorney estimates it could be up to two years before a jury hears their case. Nelson is seeking more than $15,000 in damages for back pay, benefits, emotional pain and suffering and punitive damages.