Losing most of her advertisers after she attacked a Parkland, Florida student is not Fox News and syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham’s only problem.
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Ingraham and her company, which does business as Lifezette, have been sued in Superior Court in the District of Columbia for pregnancy discrimination by her former assistant, Karolina Wilson.
The nation’s capital has some of the most explicit protections for expecting mothers in the workplace by way of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Wilson charges that after working for Ingraham for about 16 months on everything from travel arrangements to household problems, usually seven days a week, often at odd hours, on both business and personal matters, she got pregnant and later was fired.
Ingraham, who is a mother of three children herself, was a demanding boss who was not easily satisfied, according to Wilson, but she, “never complained about anything. I was tired. It was a lot, but I loved that kind of work. That’s why I do it.”
In March 2017, however, the then-28year-old assistant announced she was pregnant with her first child and that is “when things began to become difficult,” she told The Washington Post.
Under D.C.’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and its broader Family and Medical Leave Act, Wilson thought she was entitled to eight weeks off for maternity leave. Ingraham, however, only offered one week off at first. When Wilson raised the issue with her her boss, she was told she could have three weeks. She ended-up taking the full eight weeks the law grants her.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) April 20, 2018
Wilson worked until she went into labor on Aug. 6, 2017, which was two weeks before her due date. She notified Ingraham’s nanny to tell Ingraham, who texted her “good luck.”
However, Ingraham also continued to text Wilson assignments, including the scheduling of interviews for a new nanny and making sure her exercise equipment was repaired.
Wilson says that after about three weeks on leave, she was pressured by Ingraham to work from home and was peppered with assignments.
When Wilson returned to work on Oct. 9, the CEO of Ingraham’s company called her in and told her that her job had been eliminated and she was being replaced by the person who had filled in for her while she was on maternity leave.
Wilson was allowed to work until the end of October so she could collect unemployment insurance.
During that time, Wilson says she had no lunch breaks and was not given a private space to pump breast milk in the office, so she had to do it in her car in the garage.
Laura Ingraham is being sued for pregnancy discrimination. She is a working mother who bullies teens and denies pregnant employees a wage. How twisted. https://t.co/D1e4uyKN3A
— Millennial Democrats (@Millennial_Dems) April 20, 2018
Ingraham’s attorney stated in court filings that they reject Wilson’s claims outright and that the company rejects her claims that before she became pregnant her work was “extremely efficient.”
The attorney also said Ingraham’s company, with about 20 employees, is too small to fall under the District’s laws on pregnancy leave.
Ingraham denies Wilson was treated with hostility after she became pregnant, and denies that she knew anything about Wilson’s issues finding a place to pump milk when she returned to work.
“I was treated unfairly,” says Wilson. “I hope this never happens again. “I think pregnancy and bringing children into the world is a beautiful thing,” continued Wilson. “It shouldn’t be tarnished with hostility.”
Ingraham is a proud conservative, noted most recently for taking a hard line of immigration. She declared in 2014 that allowing more immigrant workers into the U.S. would be “obscene to the American experience.”
As a conservative, however, she’s also ostensibly pro-family, at least when it’s convenient for her. She has a law degree as well, and so ignorance of the law is no excuse in her case.
She apparently also takes a hard line as an employer, showing little sympathy to a young woman who was dedicated to her before she became pregnant and saw a very different side of her tough boss.
Ingraham certainly isn’t the kind of boss – or for that matter, the kind of TV host – to engender loyalty, a quality that probably isn’t important at Fox News, where there has been an unusual amount of employee turnover in recent months.
Now with so many of her advertisers bailing out, we will see just how much loyalty Fox has to Ingraham, a relatively new arrival with little sweat equity at the cable news giant.
In the future, the lawyer turned broadcaster may be the one suing her boss, and not because she is pregnant.