Mayorga v. Alorica Inc.,
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103766 (July 25, 2012)
Whether medical conditions resulting from a high-risk pregnancy can be considered a disability within the meaning of the ADA.
Silvia Mayorga worked as a customer service representative for Alorica Inc. During her employment, Mayorga became pregnant. She suffered from a number of complications related to her pregnancy, and she was admitted to the emergency room on three separate occasions. As a result, Mayorga’s doctor ordered her on bed rest for three weeks. Mayorga requested three weeks of unpaid leave from her direct supervisor, who initially denied the request, stating: “I am not going to treat you special because you are pregnant.” However, a human resources representative subsequently approved three weeks of unpaid leave.
Upon returning to work from her three-week leave of absence, Mayorga was informed that she had been terminated. A human resources representative told her: “Sorry. I cannot accommodate you. This is a company. We need you here. So, since you can’t be here because you are pregnant, we cannot accommodate you. Re-apply after you have your baby.”
As a consequence, Mayorga filed a complaint alleging violations of the ADA and Florida Civil Rights Act. Alorica moved to dismiss her claim of disability discrimination for failure to state a claim, arguing pregnancy is not recognized as a disability under the ADA.
The court denied Alorica’s motion, holding Mayorga’s complaint sufficiently alleged that Alorica discriminated against her based on her disability.
The court acknowledged that it is well-established that pregnancy, absent unusual circumstances, is not considered a disability under the ADA. However, analyzing the ADA regulations, the court held that where a medical condition arises out of a pregnancy and causes an impairment separate from the symptoms associated with a healthy pregnancy or significantly intensifies the symptoms associated with a healthy pregnancy, such medical condition may fall within the ADA’s definition of a disability.
In Mayorga’s case, her allegation that she suffered from a physiological impairment — namely, that her baby was in a breech presentation and that she had significant pregnancy-related complications resulting in her three emergency room admissions and numerous pregnancy-related symptoms — was sufficient to survive Alorica’s motion to dismiss.
Although typically pregnancy is not a disability within the definition of the ADA, the mother may be protected if she suffers unusual physiological effects.