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Another driver sues AC Transit for pregnancy discrimination

Woman claims she fell asleep at the wheel because her bosses wouldn’t listen to concerns about fatigue

Photo by Supannee_Hickman/Shutterstock

A second driver joined a class action lawsuit against AC Transit on Tuesday, charging the East Bay transit agency with “systemic pregnancy discrimination” and discrimination against new mothers.

According to a statement from her attorneys, driver Jada Edward claims that AC Transit unduly penalizes pregnant drivers. She also charges the agency with “failure to accommodate lactation” and with “retaliation” for complaints.

According to the latest filing:

AC Transit employees who become pregnant or are lactating face a workplace culture in which women who want both a career and a family are laughed at for asking too much. [...] AC Transit’s refusal to provide reasonable pregnancy accommodations and lactation accommodations has resulted in lost wages, lost opportunities, and lost benefits.

[...] Pregnant AC Transit women have been disciplined when their uniforms no longer fit, are forced on unpaid leaves of absence, deal with painful engorgement or an end to their milk supply while driving and lactating because AC Transit refuses to provide accommodations. As a result, women face impossible choices.

In December of 2018, fellow driver Nikki McNaulty sued AC Transit in federal court on similar grounds, claiming that, among other things, she was forced to take an unpaid leave of absence three months earlier than medically necessary.

Edward, who began driving for AC Transit in 2005, joined McNaulty’s suit as a new plaintiff.

In June of 2017, when she was in her third trimester, Edward fell asleep at the wheel with passengers onboard, which she claims happened because her bosses would not amend her schedule to relieve pregnancy-related fatigue.

Edward says that after she gave birth, AC Transit wouldn’t let her take breaks to relieve lactation pain, leading her to “take unauthorized bathroom breaks in public restrooms where she would pump and dump her breastmilk.”

According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, “Your employer has an obligation to reasonably accommodate your medical needs related to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions,” including “allowing more frequent breaks.”

In response to the new complaint, AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles tells Curbed SF, “We stress that a lawsuit is an assembly of one party’s allegations and by no means a confirmation of facts. As such, we ask the public to withhold any judgment as we work to uncover the circumstances giving rise to this issue.”