Omni Baking Company's human resources department allegedly ignored the defendant's numerous attempts to communicate.
In Vineland, New Jersey, the Office of the Attorney General has ordered the contract bakery Omni Baking Company to pay $60,000 to defendant Ashley Ruiz-Lopez. Omni violated state law by firing Ruiz-Lopez while she was on maternity leave.
Ruiz-Lopez had worked as a receptionist at Omni Baking Company since June 2014. Despite giving clear notification and communication regarding her planned start and end dates, the company fired her while she was on leave.
“The totality of the circumstances, including her submission of medical certificates showing her expected recovery dates, repeated visits to the office, repeated attempts to reach (the HR manager), and the nature of her leave, was sufficient to trigger Respondent’s legal responsibility to engage in the interactive process,” said Division of Civil Rights director Craig T. Sashihara in a release.
Ruiz-Lopez submitted a claim for temporary disability benefits when she started leave at the end of January 2016. She also submitted paperwork that including a doctor’s note stating her due date of Feb. 27th, and expected return date in mid-April.
According to Ruiz-Lopez, she made multiple attempts in person and over the phone to contact the company’s human resource department but never received an answer. The bakery fired her on March 29, 2016. Ruiz-Lopez consequently filed a complaint with the Division of Civil Rights.
“An employee should not have to choose between keeping her job and raising a family,” said Sashihara. “New Jersey’s family leave and pregnancy protection laws were created to maintain the integrity of the family unit and help society prosper. Our commitment is to ensure that employers adhere to those laws.”
Omni Baking Company will pay $60,000 to the defendant and $10,000 to the division. Additionally, the company has been ordered to “create and distribute a new family leave policy, provide anti-discrimination training to its roughly 450 employees, and submit to a year of monitoring by the division”.
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