Woman files lawsuit against former employer
Says she was denied maternity leave, fired
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.