On January 5, 2018, the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) issued a decision in favor of Maria Fuentes, who is represented by attorneys Jillian Moo-Young, Cori Cohen, and Stephanie Herrera of the Silver Spring, Maryland law firm Gilbert Employment Law, P.C. DOES found that Vador Ventures, Inc. d/b/a Total Quality Building Services ("Total Quality"), violated the Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 ("PPFWA") when it prohibited Ms. Fuentes from returning to the workplace after she requested an accommodation related to her pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions. DOES awarded Ms. Fuentes full backpay and reasonable attorneys' fees and ordered Total Quality to pay a $3,000 penalty to the Pregnant Workers Protection Fund.
In March 2017, Ms. Fuentes, a cleaner, began experiencing severe back pain as a result of her pregnancy. Her doctor recommended that, due to her pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions, Ms. Fuentes be accommodated in the workplace. On March 27, 2017, Ms. Fuentes provided a doctor's note setting forth her restrictions to Total Quality. The same day, Total Quality informed Ms. Fuentes that she could no longer continue her employment unless her doctor authorized her to work without restriction. DOES found that Ms. Fuentes could perform the majority of her duties, and that Total Quality "show[ed] an unwillingness to reasonably accommodate [Ms. Fuentes]" when it refused to allow Ms. Fuentes to work "unless she provided a medical note releasing her to full-duty." Further, DOES found that Total Quality could have provided an accommodation such as a "switch in duties between employees," which would not have posed an undue hardship to Total Quality.The PPFWA was intended to expand protections to pregnant workers to ensure they are able to maintain their jobs when they are most in need of stable employment. Gilbert Employment Law, P.C. is hopeful that this decision will encourage employers to provide pregnant employees, like Ms. Fuentes, with reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
For further information, please contact: Cori Cohen, (301) 608-0880, firstname.lastname@example.org