Suit: Cleaning Service Fired Woman Because She Was Pregnant

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island woman hired to work for a house cleaning service was fired just days later after management found out that she was pregnant, the woman said in a discrimination lawsuit filed Monday.

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island on behalf of Bristol resident Julia Schultz alleges that the owners of Merry Maids of Rhode Island violated state civil rights law.

Schultz applied for the house cleaner position in late April 2021 when she was about 16 weeks pregnant, according to the lawsuit.

She attended an orientation program for new hires in early May 2021, during which the company's co-owner asked if she was pregnant, according to the suit. When she confirmed she was, the co-owner said she could not offer her the job because of its “physical demands” and said she “should be at home taking care" of the baby. She then suggested Schultz reapply after the baby's birth.

“When I left the building that day, I felt so ashamed, like I was doing something wrong by trying to work while pregnant," Schultz said.

She added: “Especially with Roe v. Wade getting overturned, it’s even more important now to fight for our rights, fight against the wealth gap between men and women, and empower women, not try to keep them down based on old, outdated traditions.”

A woman who answered the phone at Merry Maids said she did not know about the lawsuit and had no comment.

The suit seeks damages for Schultz, reinstatement and an injunction to bar the company from engaging in similar acts.