Victoria's Secret employee claims she was fired for being pregnant

Kelly Holleran Dec. 16, 2008, 6:00am

Victoria's Secret at Parkdale Mall

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Victoria's Secret Stores, alleging she was wrongfully discriminated against because of her pregnancy.

Krystal Burns claims she worked for the lingerie store at the Parkdale Mall location in Beaumont as a co-manager when she became pregnant in 2007, according to the complaint filed Dec. 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

"From that time her direct supervisor began discriminating against her due to her pregnancy," the suit states.

For example, Burns claims she was forced to work longer hours with less breaks than other workers.

After Burns suffered a fainting spell at work in October 2007, she provided a physician's statement that she was not to work more than 40 hours per week due to her pregnancy, according to the complaint.

However, her direct supervisor Anna Abalos, ignored the note and forced Burns to work more than 40 hours each week, the suit states.

Because of Abalos's actions, Burns reported the treatment to the ethics hotline at Victoria's Secret, but continued to be treated differently than non-pregnant employees and to be retaliated against because of her complaint, she claims.

In January 2008, Burns noticed people stealing from the store, according to the suit.

"In accordance with the policy that plaintiff believed existed, and as she had witnessed on multiple occasions by her co-manager and her supervisor, she notified mall security about the shoplifters," the suit states.

After she returned from a vacation on Feb. 7, Burns claims she was terminated because she violated company policy by calling mall security.

Instead, Burns was supposed to call the loss mitigation department within Victoria's Secret, according to the complaint.

"Non-pregnant employees, including Anna Abalos, violated the same policy but were not terminated," the suit states. "In fact, when Anna Abalos violated the same policy she was only verbally reprimanded."

At the time she called mall security, Burns claims she had no idea such a policy was in effect.

In addition, Victoria's Secret has a progressive disciplinary policy that begins with verbal warnings, advances to written warnings and ends with termination, according to the complaint.

However, Victoria's Secret failed to use the progressive disciplinary policy on Burns before firing her, the suit states.

"Plaintiff can establish disparate treatment because the conduct for which she was discharged was identical to conduct engaged in by an employee not within her protected class whom the employer then retained," the suit states.

Burns brings the suit under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Section 21.051 of the Texas Labor Code which prohibit discrimination and termination on the basis of pregnancy.

She is seeking a judgment enjoining and permanently restraining Title VII violations and a judgment directing Victoria's Secret to take affirmative steps to insure effects of the unlawful employment practices are eliminated.

She is also seeking unspecified injury, monetary, mental anguish, humiliation, pain and suffering and lost wage damages, punitive damages, plus costs, attorney's fees, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

She is represented by Wyatt D. Snider and Jason M. Byrd of Snider and Byrd in Beaumont.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B182-857.

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