Macon woman’s suit claims she was fired because of pregnancy

awomack@macon.comJune 23, 2013 

A Macon woman who claims she was fired from YKK AP America after telling her manager she was pregnant has filed a federal discrimination suit, seeking more than $600,000.

Kiera Banks applied with Adecco Staffing USA, a job placement company, and was hired at YKK’s Macon facility in June 2010 as a light industrial worker, according to the complaint, filed this month in U.S. District Court.

In spring 2011, Banks told her manager she was pregnant.

His response, her suit alleges, was, “What did you go do that for?”

The manager assigned Banks, who had been doing assembly work, to another job that required additional lifting. On April 13, 2011, Banks provided medical documents showing she was restricted from heavy lifting due to her pregnancy.

Here’s what happened from there, according to the suit:

The manager went into the company’s administrative offices. When he came back out, he walked Banks to the door and fired her without further discussion.

Adecco also sent Banks a termination notice, saying she was “unable to meet job requirements due to medical restriction of light duty.”

At some point after firing Banks, YKK learned that Banks’ husband also worked for the company. He was terminated and told the reason was because of his relationship to Banks.

The lawsuit also maintains that Adecco didn’t take action to protect the rights of Banks or her husband and didn’t try to place them in other jobs. YKK had other jobs, including Banks’ old job, that she could have performed.

Banks also alleges that Adecco and YKK have retaliated against her by not considering her for other jobs for which she’s qualified because she filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC investigated her case and issued Banks a “notification of right to sue” in March 2013.

Jim Reed, chief legal counsel for YKK, said Kiera Banks was hired as a temporary employee through a placement agency in early 2011 and worked as a grid machine operator in an area assembling windows. He didn’t have information about Banks’ husband’s employment.

Reed said the company has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit and that he couldn’t comment on the specific allegations in the court filing.

“This is a unique allegation for us,” Reed said. YKK’s Macon facility opened in 1973.

Contacted for comment Friday, Adecco issued a statement saying, “While the company typically does not comment on pending legal matters, we pride ourselves in being an equal opportunity employer of choice that is fully committed to abiding by all applicable laws and maintaining a safe work environment for all of our associates. We believe the actions taken with this former associate are consistent with these principles.”

Howard Evans, the Atlanta lawyer representing Banks, said Banks and her family suffered a “major economic hit” after both firings.

The Bankses are good, hard-working people, he said, and Kiera Banks is now working as a bus driver.

“She’s a diligent young lady,” he said.

Banks is seeking court orders that include either forcing the companies to offer her “front pay” or to reinstate her job.

She also wants back pay, at least $300,000 in punitive damages from each company, additional compensatory damages, and payment of her attorneys fees.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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