WRC news 2013 - Client Story
Pregnant and Fired for Taking Medical Leave
While Li Yan was pregnant with her second child, she started experiencing health problems that made it difficult for her to perform her job operating a machine in an industrial environment. The work was strenuous and regularly exposed her to harmful chemicals. When Li Yan’s pregnancy-related health problems persisted, her doctor ordered her to take medical leave. She did so, and returned to work after having her baby. Soon afterward, she was fired. Li Yan’s manager said he had to let her go because the number of orders had been reduced. Li Yan was neither the most junior nor the least qualified person performing her job.
Li Yan was extremely upset, and she knew what had happened was not right. But she wasn’t sure where to turn. After learning about the Workers’ Rights Clinic, Li Yan, whose first language is Cantonese and who speaks limited English, was relieved to get legal advice from bilingual Clinic counselor King Szeto. Through the Clinic, Li Yan was connected to Elizabeth Kristen, an attorney in Legal Aid’s Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program who specializes in pregnancy discrimination. Elizabeth and King helped her file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, where she reached a confidential settlement of her case.
Says Li Yan, “I was so lucky to find the Workers’ Rights Clinic. King did a terrific job with language assistance and translation, and Elizabeth is a great attorney who helped guide me through the process. They went out of their way to advocate for me, and always put my interests first. I now have confidence that, if this happens again, no one can discriminate against me. I feel that the law actually protects pregnant women.”