Woman files law­suit against for­mer em­ployer

Says she was de­nied ma­ter­nity leave, fired

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

A Fort Wash­ing­ton woman be­lieves she was wrong­fully ter­mi­nated by her for­mer em­ployer, Chil­dren’s Health­care Cen­ter, a small prac­tice in Wal­dorf, shortly af­ter re­quest­ing ma­ter­nity leave. She has since filed a law- suit in Charles County Cir­cuit Court, and a trial has been sched­uled for Fe­bru­ary.

Alita-Geri Carter, who was hired as a nurse prac- titioner in March 2015, says she first in­formed her em­ployer of her preg- nancy a few months later in Septem­ber, re­quest­ing leave at that time, and was al­legedly fired on Christ- mas Eve in re­sponse to a sec­ond re­quest to take time off, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

The com­plaint also al- leges that Dr. Ade­teju Ogun­rinde, the owner and sole doc­tor of Chil- dren’s Health­care Cen­ter, ques­tioned the tim­ing and va­lid­ity of her re­quest, chas­tised her and viewed her preg­nancy as a “li­a­bil- ity to the pro­duc­tiv­ity” of her busi­ness, ref­er­enc­ing cor­re­spon­dence in which she de­nied her re­quest for ma­ter­nity leave.

The ba­sis of the law­suit is hinged upon whether or not Carter was wrong­fully dis­charged based on her gen­der, and if her ter­mi­na­tion breached the two-year em­ploy­ment con­tract she had signed. The com­plaint states that the “close prox­im­ity of Mrs. Carter’s preg­nancy no­tice” to the em­ployer’s de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate her cre­ates a “nexus.”

De­fense at­tor­ney Wil- liam Ray Ford, who is rep­re­sent­ing Chil­dren’s Health­care Cen­ter, ada- mantly de­nied the al­lega- tions.

“Chil­dren’s Health­care Cen­ter has filed an an- swer in the case, deny- ing the al­le­ga­tion in the com­plaint,” he told the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent. “We in­tend to de­fend the case vig­or­ously in trial. Ms. Geri Carter, she was ter­mi­nated be­cause her job per­for­mance was un- sat­is­fac­tory.”

“[She] was preg­nant at the time that her job was ter­mi­nated, and it is the Chil­dren’s Health­care Cen­ter’s po­si­tion that that had noth­ing to do with her ter­mi­na­tion,” Ford con­tin­ued. “They have a ma­ter­nal leave pol­icy. They have less than 15 em­ploy­ees, so the state law does not ap­ply to them, but they do, as a mat­ter of rou­tine, pro­vide ma­ter­nity leave for their em­ploy­ees.”

Carter’s at­tor­ney, Alan Mitchell, says they will be seek­ing to re­cover lost wages and ben­e­fits, com­pen­sator y, liq­ui­dated, and puni­tive dam­ages in an amount to be de­ter- mined by a jury, though he gave no es­ti­mate as to how much such an award might be.

“We ex­pect to re­cover what she was sup­posed to make un­der the con­tract. That is a por­tion of the dam­ages that we ex­pect to re­cover,” Mitchell said. “No [ex­pec­tant] mother should have to choose be­tween her job or car­ing for her child. We look for­ward to try­ing this mat­ter in court.”

A trial has been set for Feb. 13.

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