AOL Patch Former Editor Sues for Pregnancy, Illness Accommodation

Mary Vandergrift, former editor of the AOL-run news site Patch, has sued AOL and Patch for failing to accommodate her when she was pregnant and experiencing a chronic illness. The suit claims that under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act, Vandergrift was treated unfairly and was abused.

Vandergrift claims that while she suffered from Crohn’s disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease, and was pregnant, her supervisors harassed her and forced her to work from her hospital bed, threatening to fire her if she failed to comply. She also claims that her employers denied her a higher-paying position specifically because she was sick and pregnant.

Vandergrift tried on multiple occasions to take pregnancy and disability leaves, but was still coerced with threats into working against a doctor’s order during her “high-risk” pregnancy, according to the suit. When Vandergrift’s child was born, her supervisor emailed her a congratulatory email, immediately asking if she could work from her hospital bed.

Though she was in and out of the emergency room during her pregnancy, Vandergrift still worked full-time and was told to “pump out as much content as the other editors” by her supervisor, according to the suit.

Harassment due to pregnancy or illness is illegal and those who qualify are eligible for leaves associated with childbirth and chronic illness. Employers who refuse to abide by these rules or who harass employees for being pregnant or having illnesses can be sued for compensation. If you have been denied leave rights by an employer or suffered harassment in the workplace, contact our labor law attorneys today for a free consultation.

Tip of the week: Pregnancy leave does not have to be taken all at once- it can be taken during or after pregnancy, adding up to a total of four months.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys