Former EMT sues NC county for sex discrimination

She alleges her supervisor made derogatory jokes about her pregnancy and failed to modify her work duties when she had complications due to the pregnancy


By Michael D. Abernethy
Times-News, Burlington

GRAHAM, N.C. — A former employee with Alamance County Emergency Medical Services is suing the county to get her job back — with back pay — after she claims she was discriminated against because of her pregnancy.

Elizabeth Holloman alleges her supervisor made derogatory jokes about her pregnancy and that county leaders failed to modify her work duties due to complications in the pregnancy.

Holloman was employed by Alamance County EMS on Oct. 1, 2001. She resigned Nov. 4, 2014, after the disputes alleged in the claim, Alamance County Human Resources Director Sherry Hook confirmed Monday. She was an EMT Intermediate and earned a salary of $31,608.

The suit was filed March 2 in Alamance County Civil Superior Court and claims the county engaged in discrimination against Holloman due to “her sex and subsequent pregnancy as well as her medical condition arising from the pregnancy.”

After she informed her supervisor of the pregnancy, she was subjected to extra scrutiny, her performance was “constantly criticized,” and she was the subject of jokes made by that supervisor “as her waist expanded with pregnancy.” She also was “treated with contempt” over uniform modifications she requested to accommodate the pregnancy, the suit says.

The suit doesn’t name her supervisor. Hook declined to name the supervisor Monday and said the information was a protected part of personnel files.

A phone message to Nancy Quinn, Holloman’s attorney, seeking the identity of her supervisor wasn’t returned as of 6 p.m. Monday.

On June 24, Holloman’s doctor placed her on light duty because of a complication with the pregnancy, and her supervisor objected to the request and didn’t investigate light duty options available, the claim says.

“When she investigated light duty options herself, she was chastised and berated by her supervisor,” it says.

She attempted to resolve the issue through the human resources department, but Alamance County’s “management team … made it very clear to her that she did not warrant accommodation of her work duties, and that she should simply take Family and Medical Leave Act leave of absence.”

She gave birth to her child prematurely. The suit doesn’t make the claim that the premature birth was caused by her work duties.

She returned to work after giving birth to the child, but later resigned after being “subjected to excessive scrutiny and unwarranted disciplinary action” in the form of unreasonable time frames for receiving continuing education, and suspension of her duties. She claims male coworkers were given more time for continuing education after medical leave.

She believes leaders’ behavior was intended to make her resign.

The suit claims male coworkers requiring medical accommodation did not receive the same pressure to leave work.

Holloman filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Aug. 27.

On claims of sex discrimination and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, Holloman is seeking monetary damages, including lost wages plus interest, compensatory damages, and reinstatement to her job, with full benefits and seniority.

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©2015 Times-News (Burlington, N.C.)

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