A former employee of a grocery store chain has filed a lawsuit accusing her former employer of pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.
Forty-two-year-old Julia Hammer filed a lawsuit against Trader Joe’s on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, according to ABC News. Hammer alleges mistreatment from the company and that a change in the company’s health care policy led to her coverage being pulled while on maternity leave.
Hammer added that even when she returned to work the environment was made “more difficult” by the way she was treated.
“Returning to work after giving birth has many challenges, but the way Trader Joe’s treated me only made it more difficult,” Hammer told the outlet. “From the anxiety and stress every time I had to pump in that horrible mechanical room, to me and my infant child losing health insurance during a pandemic, Trader Joe’s caused me and my family to suffer tremendously.”
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“Companies like Trader Joe’s that claim to care about their employees have a responsibility to support working mothers just like everyone else, and I want to help make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen to other people,” Hammer explained.
Hammer, who began working for Trader Joe’s full time in October 2018 at a location in Manhattan, was transferred in April 2021 to a location in Queens, according to the complaint.
In her lawsuit, Hammer alleges that the company did not provide her with a room suitable and clean enough for her to pump milk for her newborn baby. Hammer claims that one of her male coworkers walked in on her as she was pumping milk and the incident left her feeling “scared and very shaken up.”
Hammer alleges in her lawsuit that she had her health care coverage revoked due to her not meeting “the required number of hours to be eligible” for her benefits. However, Hammer claims that when taking into account the “minimum number of hours” needed to qualify for coverage, the company did not take into account that she had been on maternity leave, according to the outlet.
Trader Joe’s says it offers a 401 (k) retirement plan, and up to a 20% discount on all products in the store. The company also “covers a significant portion of” medical costs, and offers medical, dental, and vision plans. Crew member contributions are reportedly as low as $25 a month, according to the Trader Joe’s website.
IJR reached out to Trader Joe’s for a statement but did not receive a response back by the time of publication.
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