CVS is being sued by a former employee who claims she was discriminated against because of her pregnancy, and that CVS retaliated against her by wrongfully terminated her employment.
Karian Gordon, a black woman of Jamaican and St. Croix origin, was hired by a CVS in the Bronx, New York in October 2014 as a pharmacy technician, according to the complaint.
Gordon claims that beginning in early 2015 she began to witness some pharmacy technicians performing tasks that were the responsibility of pharmacists alone, such as reconstituting medications, including narcotics. She claims that in one such instance she refused to ring up a prescription because it had not been approved by a pharmacist, as is required. She also observed other pharmacy technicians counseling and providing medical advice to customers, which can only be done by a pharmacist, according the New York law.
After reporting these violations to supervisors and human resource personnel, Gordon’s work hours were reduced to a few hours per week, according to the complaint. She claims this was done “in retaliation for her concern for the quality of patient care and public safety.”
When a CVS store manager suggested she “would do better” in a South Bronx store – an area that is lower income and more crime-ridden with a higher percentage of African Americans – and she refused, her hours were reduced again, according to the complaint.
In September 2015 Gordon claims she received a customer service award based on online customer feedback.
In January 2016 Gordon learned that she was pregnant and her doctor told her she would need to take breaks at work if she felt dizzy or nauseous. She notified her supervisor at CVS of her condition. Gordon requested that she be given no late shifts so that she could keep her regular sleeping schedule. She claims, however, that CVS scheduled her to work at the times she asked not to be.
Because she had to attend frequent unplanned doctor’s appointments, Gordon was forced to call out from work on a number of occasions, according to the complaint.
Gordon claims that when she began to feel dizzy or nauseous and asked to take a break, CVS supervisors refused her request. When she asked to work in an area of the pharmacy with less customer interaction so that she could sit rather than stand at the cash register, she was told no. When she asked to use a chair when no customers were in line, CVS again refused.
On April 1, 2016 Gordon attended a prenatal appointment that she claims her doctor requested at the last minute to discuss test results. Believing this wouldn’t interfere with her work schedule she did not call into work. When the appointment ran late she informed her supervisor. After clocking in for her shift she was informed that she “was being terminated due to her attendance issues.”
Following her termination, Gordon claims CVS hired a pharmacy technician who was not pregnant.
Gordon claims she “ was discharged under circumstances raising an inference of discrimination by being terminated shortly after she announced her pregnancy, being targeted for discipline not imposed on other non-pregnant employees . . . denied reasonable accommodations that would have enabled [her] to avoid being target for disciplinary write-ups in the first placed, and replaced with a non-pregnant [pharmacy technician.]
Gordon is represented by Samuel Maduegbuna of New York City who brought the action in the Southern District of New York.
Image Source: Mike Mozart (Flickr)