This article was originally published on 24/7Mirror
It all started when Lindsey Wilcox, from Florida, decided to get a full-time job. Like many young women her age, she had worked some part-time jobs in the past, but she was ready for something better. Despite the financial support from her boyfriend, she felt the need to make her own money, not knowing this decision would start unexpected chain of events in both of their lives.
An Expectant Mother
Lindsey started dating Felix Jiminez in the Fall of 2017, and things were great between them. When she became pregnant, it was no surprise.
The joy of the news was only tempered by their worries that they may not be able to give the baby everything it needed with Felix’s income alone. Hence, the need for Lindsey to get a job too.
A Part-time Job
Knowing the physical toll pregnancy would later take on her body, Lindsey decided to apply for part-time jobs instead of full-time positions.
She wanted a job that would not be too demanding in the latter stages of her pregnancy, and would be flexible enough so that she could focus on this joyous time in her life while being able to contribute to her new family.
The Struggle To Find a Job
Lindsey applied for many different jobs and sent her resume to several businesses to increase her chances of getting hired. But it was not so easy as most businesses didn't want to employ a pregnant worker. In places where she was able to secure an interview, appearing with a baby bump was enough to discourage the employer from giving her the job.
The struggle to provide a better life for her unborn child has becoming real.
Giving it a try
In her search for work, she came across an advertisement for waiters and waitresses by the Reececliff Family Diner on Facebook.
She knew the restaurant and the required hours were okay for her, so she applied with the hope of finally getting a job.
She received an interview, and it was the good news she was hoping for. When she applied, she made sure to enforce the fact that her pregnancy would not affect her work.
She mentioned her difficulty in finding a job, and stated her readiness to work without any special favors due to her state.
Surprising Turn of Events
Honesty, they say, is the best policy, and Lindsey believed that since she spoke the truth, she would get the job. Her confidence was however met with surprise when a representative of the restaurant informed her that they would not be hiring her.
She naturally assumed it was her pregnancy that prevented her from getting the job, and this distraught her.
Rejected Out of Hand
What made it even worse was that the application was rejected out of hand, and the interview was cancelled without an explination.
Lindsay was completely devastated by this, and believed that it was her fault for mentioning her pregnancy in the first place.
Making Ends Meet
Pregnancy can be very difficult for some women with the physical toll it takes on the bod especially with the added stress of worrying about finances. Many employers believed she would not be able to work efficiently during this time.
Lindsey decided to retaliate in the best way she knew.
Spreading the Word
She decided to send screenshots of the restaurant’s rejection messages to her boyfriend. Felix was even angrier when he received the messages.To think that a restaurant could discriminate against a prospective employee due to her pregnancy was horrible.
He decided something has to be done.
Posting on Facebook
Felix shared the screenshot on Facebook with the hope that others would react and protest against such discrimination.
He captioned the photo with the statement, “Let me just say this is wrong and I’m pretty sure illegal, and they won’t get another dollar from me.” Social media users reacted to the story almost immediately.
Making The Headlines
The post was immediately noticed and before long, shared by hundreds of people on Facebook. News quickly spread across parenting minded websites and before long, local news got the gist too.
Lindsey was interviewed by one of the local news networks "Fox-13", and the video of the interview had gotten over 2000 views. The power of social media.
Before long, Felix’s post on Facebook went viral. The post had almost 200 comments, over 200 reactions, and was shared over 650 times.
People were outraged and voiced their support for the couple. The outcries were overwhelming, and the owner of the restaurant could not keep quiet any longer. However, their reaction did not help their case. If anything, it only made it worse.
The Resturant’s Rejoinder
Reececliff Family Diner felt the need to tell their side of the story due to the public outcry surrounding their actions. They posted Lindsey’s resume on Facebook to show that she was not qualified for the job, and that it was due to this and not her pregnancy that they didn’t hire her.
This violation of privacy only irked more people, especially Lindsey herself. They were not helping their already hindered reputation.
You can sue
The action of the restaurant was considered to be a huge blunder. Not only did it cost them supporters who were giving them the benefit of doubt beforehand, many people felt Lindsay should seek legal advice to determine whether she has a case against the restaurant.
Whatever goodwill the restaurant was banking on from the community, was greatly hindered after it published personal details about Lindsey such as her alma mater, address, and previous work experience.
Breaking the rules
The couple discovered the actions of the restaurant were against the law. It is technically a discrimination to deny a pregnant woman a job because of her pregnancy. No employer has the rights to refuse a person a job simply because of personal circumstances.
State and federal government laws prohibit dismissing someone because of pregnancy.
An Expert Opinion
A legal expert on employment, Raul Valles, weighed in on the matter. According to her, employment decisions should be based on ability to do the job and work experience instead of trivial personal matters.
She further stated that employers do not have the legal right to dismiss a person on the grounds of pregnancy, and they are meant to ignore such fact when interviewing a woman for the job.
Discrimination harms everyone
Speaking further, Raul Valles pointed out that discriminating against anyone on the basis of pregnancy could be detrimental to the employer. This is because a potential employee can take legal action against the employer for such discrimination.
She can sue for potential wage loss, back wages, and emotional damage, among many others. Such legal action would put the employer at risk financially.
Although many people supported Lindsay through her ordeal, there were few who doubted her intentions and believed she had ulterior motives.
The people who were loyal and long-time customers of the restaurant felt that it was possible that Lindsey was not discriminated against, but actually unqualified for the job.
Qualified for the job
The claims that Lindsey was unqualified for the job angered her because she knew her ability to do the job.
While the restaurant wanted people to believe Lindsey was not qualified to be a waitress, she knew that she was more than qualified to be a waitress and that her pregnancy would not affect her work.
The Community Action
In protest against what looked like discrimination against a woman for being pregnant, members of the community expressed their displeasure on Facebook, and decided to protest physically too.
They did this by boycotting the restaurant. A general announcement was made by people living in the area that they will be staying away from the restaurant until the issue was resolved.
The restaurant could not cope with the backlash. From the boycott to the negative reviews on Facebook, the owner decided it was finally time to do something.
He approached Lindsey to resolve the obvious misunderstanding, claiming it was an employee without authorization and not him who messaged her on social media. He explained that this issue was merely a miscommunication, which could be resolved amicably.
A Proper Education
The owner promised to properly deal with the issue within his own establishment. The liable employee would be duly educated on the acceptable standards, laws, and policies that the restaurant operates by.
He conceded that his employee was responsible for the whole issue and to protect the reputation of his business, which has existed in the community for a very long time, he must hold his employees to high standards too.
We have a history of good behavior
To further prove his point, the owner pointed out that in the past 16 years during which the restaurant has operated in the community, he had always followed due processes. He apologized profusely to Lindsey for the discrimination, saying it was not what the restaurant stands for.
He stated that something like this has never happened before, and will never happen again.
He even went further to offer Lindsey another opportunity to have an interview, which his employee had refused her. He promised that the decision to hire her would be made based on her work experience and qualifications for the job, as well as how well she does during the interview and not on any other parameters.
He promised to do everything by the book this time, and not make any arbitrary decisions this time around.
Saying No, thank you.
Lindsey expressed her gratitude to the owner for his efforts to make things right but rejected the offer for another interview. According to her, she does not want to be associated with the restaurant in any way after what had happened between them.
Instead, she prefers to look for another job even as her due date gets nearer, and she runs out of time to make the money needed.
Even though Lindsey is still unemployed, the couple remains enthusiastic about having a new addition to their small family. Lindsey, on her part, is focused on what is ahead, and has decided not to let the Reececlif Diner events determine the kind of person she is.
The couple shares their progress on social media with friends and family.
This is not an isolated incident
Lindsey is not alone in her story, discrimination against expectant mothers is quite a national and global issue. Thousands of women across the country have complained of similar discrimination in the workplace.
Due to the prevalence of this issue, in 2015, Florida, amended its Human Rights Act by adding pregnant women to the list of groups that should be protected from employment discrimination.
Laws exist to prevent discrimination, but awareness about these laws is very low which leads to an employer being let off scot-free after acts of discrimination. Experts have expressed the importance of knowing these laws so that pregnant women can protect their rights and demand what they deserve from an employer without fear.
Being pregnant can be tasking on its own, but being discriminated against because of pregnancy would only make things worse. The only way to prevent this is by empowering women with information about their rights.
Apart from state laws, there are federal laws with the objective of protecting pregnant women against discrimination. Some of these laws have been in existence for a very long time. For instance, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted in 1978.
Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies throughout the country, was amended in 2008 to include pregnant women.
Reececliff Family Diner is not the only business that had been subject to public criticism due to its discriminatory acts against pregnant women. In fact, many popular businesses have been found guilty of these acts.
For example, in 2017, Whitney Tomlinson, an employee of the retail store giant Walmart revealed how she was treated by the store when she became pregnant. She was forced to go on unpaid leave until after giving birth; this kind of practice should be condemned at all times.
It appeared that Whitney's only offense was getting pregnant. She was a proven hardworking employee without any blemishes on her record. Whitney could not go on unpaid leave because she needed the money to take care of her children. She told her doctor who let her know that such practices are inappropriate and illegal.
Luckily for her, an organization called A Better Balance, which fights for women who have been discriminated against, helped her fight back.
Prevalence of the practice
This organization offered legal counsel to Whitney and has been helping her to file a lawsuit against Walmart. Unknown to her, her case was not an isolated one; in fact, ‘A Better Balance’ has filed more than five pregnancy discrimination lawsuits against Walmart in the past few years.
This shows how prevalent this discrimination is within the company.
Wonder Woman had to hide her pregnancy
Pregnancy is definitely a big issue in the workplace with many people, even celebrities among us. For example, Gal Gadot, the star of Wonder Woman, was pregnant during the re-shoot for the movie.
She discovered her pregnancy while on set of Justice League, and had to hide it from everyone because she was worried this might change how she will be treated on set.