Firing any employee via text message is not the best way to go about it — but when the employee in question is fired via text message for being pregnant, it's in violation of the law. Kameisha Denton, a pregnant woman from Marysville, Washington, says she was recently fired from her new job at Jersey Mike’s, a sub franchise. Last week, she opened up about the story in a Facebook post, and her story quickly went viral.
"I usually don’t post personal things like this but is this allowed?" Denton captioned a screenshot of a text conversation with her manager on Facebook. After Denton texted him asking for the updated work schedule, he sent a rather shocking reply. "Hello I am sorry to inform you but it's not going to work out with Jersey Mikes," the manager's response read. "It's not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyways. You also failed to tell me this during your interview. Good luck."
Neither Jersey Mike's nor Kameisha Denton immediately responded to Romper's request for comment.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits "sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy," according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website.
Not to mention, Washington state's legislature states that employers cannot fire employees due to pregnancy. "Pregnancy is an expectable incident in the life of a woman. Discrimination against women because of pregnancy or childbirth lessens the employment opportunities of women," the law reads. "It is an unfair practice for an employer, because of pregnancy or childbirth, to: Refuse to hire or promote, terminate, or demote, a woman."
Denton spoke with local Washington news outlet KIRO 7 to share more information about the story, noting that she had only been working at Jersey Mike's for a little more than a week when she realized she had not been put on the schedule for the coming week. Shortly before she said she was fired, as she explained to KIRO 7, she had told her manager that she was pregnant and due in December.
"I was just in shock, it took me a minute to face reality. I was like, this is really happening," she said of the moment she received the text, in a filmed interview with KIRO 7. "I knew that it wasn't OK.”
Tim Trieb, the owner of the Marysville Jersey Mike's, also spoke with KIRO 7, though he declined an on-camera interview. “[It] should have never ever happened," he told the news outlet. "It's our policy to treat everybody equally." Trieb added that the manager who fired Denton subsequently resigned from his job after the news story broke.
Additionally, Trieb told KIRO 7 that he offered Denton her job back, but she turned him down — which is unsurprising, considering her new prospects. "Message after message, employers wanting me to work for them," she told KIRO 7. "I look at it as a blessing.”
Even though the law explicitly states that firing a woman due to a pregnancy is an unfair practice, many pregnant women have had similar experiences to Denton. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, almost 31,000 women filed charges of pregnancy discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (as well as comparable state agencies) between October 2010 and September 2015.
While pregnancy discrimination still exists at alarming rates, it's clear that when women like Denton speak up against it, they really have the power to make a difference.