Pregnant CVS Worker Says She Was Forced to Walk Home in Blizzard

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By Patrick Dorrian

A CVS pharmacist in Manhattan says she was forced to walk more than a mile home while five months’ pregnant during a blizzard after she was denied permission to leave work before mass transit shut down.

Polina Medvetskiy alleges she “begged to leave” during the January 2016 storm, but her supervisor made her stay even though Medvetskiy already had been ordered to close her store and an emergency travel ban was in place.

CVS otherwise discriminated against her while she was pregnant, including denying her more frequent breaks during her third trimester, after her doctor found she was experiencing pregnancy-related sciatica, Medvetskiy alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Oct. 16 ( Medvetskiy v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cv-07958, complaint filed 10/16/17 ).

“We have not been served, so we cannot comment specifically on the allegations,” a company spokesman told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 17 in an emailed statement. “CVS has firm non-discrimination policies that are rigorously enforced throughout the company. We do not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any of our customers or employees.”

Employers accommodating workers’ pregnancy-related limitations in compliance with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act is an enforcement priority for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency’s commitment to that enforcement goal was on display during its September fiscal-year-end litigation rush, when the EEOC sued five employers for alleged pregnancy-based job bias.

Bias Also Infringed Lactation Rights

Medvetskiy said the pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment didn’t end when she gave birth. Rather, CVS repeatedly failed to provide her with a private and secure place to express breast milk for her baby while at work, she says.

Instead, she was told she could pump milk in a corner of the pharmacy, between two shelves. The area was in view of overhead security cameras, even after she erected a makeshift tent between the shelves, Medvetskiy says.

The company “made absolutely no effort” to provide her with any type of accommodation for additional privacy and security, such as installing a temporary door or wall, Medvetskiy says.

CVS also retaliated against Medvetskiy for asserting her rights by not giving her more shifts when she was able to return to her pharmacy full time, the complaint says. She instead was assigned approximately one shift per week, causing her to lose income, salary, bonuses, benefits, and other crucial compensation, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It alleges violations of federal, state, and city laws.

Derek Smith Law Group represents Medvetskiy. No attorney had filed an appearance yet for CVS.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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