911 Workers Fired for Being Pregnant?
(FULTON COUNTY, Ga.) — Two former Fulton County 911 operator trainees plan to sue Georgia’s Fulton County, claiming they were fired for being pregnant.
One of the women secretly recorded a conversation she said she had with the director of the Emergency Communications Center, during which she asked for her job back after being fired.
In the recording obtained by ABC News, a person identified as department director Angela Barrett repeatedly refers to Que’ana Morris’ “situation” as the reason for her firing.
“I understand you have a situation. All I’m doing is giving you time to rectify your situation, and then you can come back when you can come to work,” Barrett tells Morris on the tape.
Morris says in the two months before she was fired, she missed 16 days of work on doctor’s orders over complications with her pregnancy. She says she had permission to miss those days for medical reasons, and that it only became a problem after she was already fired.
“I don’t have that option to turn around and rehire you when you haven’t eliminated the situation that’s causing your absence,” Barrett says in the recording. “According to you, you’re absent because of the pregnancy. So, how am I supposed to be able to make a decision when the condition still exists?”
Barrett never specifies what she means by “rectify,” but Morris told ABC affiliate WSB-TV it was clear to her that the “situation” was her pregnancy and that she couldn’t continue working as long as she was still pregnant.
“I was devastated because all of my reviews were satisfactory. Nothing stated I was a bad employee,” Morris said.
Morris filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the ground that she was discriminated against because of her gender, due to her pregnancy. The EEOC investigation found in her favor, and concluded she had the right to sue her former employer.
Morris and Leeneeka Bell, who says she was fired by the Emergency Communications Center after her pregnancy left her on bed rest, announced their plans to file a lawsuit after the EEOC finding. Their attorney, Lisa Millican, says this is a clear-cut case of discrimination.
“They’re essentially forcing their employees to choose between keeping their jobs or having a child,” Millican told ABC. “When a company has an attitude like this, it basically means a woman can’t work. So if pregnancy causes you to lose your job, that sets us back 50 years.”
Fulton County issued a statement saying they can’t confirm the authenticity of the tape, and that they can’t substantiate the women’s claims.
“We stand by our statement that at no time did Fulton County take any prohibited action against the employees in question,” the statement reads.
Millican says they plan to file one lawsuit on behalf of both women in the next few weeks.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio