A Clinton engineer/paramedic is suing the City of Clinton and city employees for alleged sex discrimination practices concerning her pregnancy.
A civil lawsuit filed on March 28, by an attorney for Karen McQuistion, includes the City of Clinton, Former Fire Chief Mark Regenwether, City Attorney Jeffrey Farwell and City Administrator Jeffrey Horne. McQuistion started as a firefighter/paramedic on Jan. 22, 2001 and was later promoted to the position of engineer/paramedic, according to the lawsuit.
On May 9, 2011, McQuistion became aware that she was pregnant and informed Regenwether on May 11, 2011, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit continues that Regenwether advised her he would try to accommodate her pregnancy by moving her to the front line at fire scenes if it was “possible.” During a May 11 meeting, McQuistion asked to be assigned to light duty. This would include inspections for the city, water hydrant checks, fire prevention duties, work with the juvenile fire offender program and training assignments.
According to the lawsuit, Regenwether refused to assign McQuistion to light duty, claiming he could not afford it. On approximately June 3, 2011, Regenwether, Farwell and Horne discussed her situation and decided to reject her request for accommodation, according to the lawsuit, which says she repeatedly requested to have her “disability” accommodated. She was forced to stop working on Sept. 29, 2011 on the recommendation of her doctor. According to the lawsuit, she could have worked until the commencement of labor if she had been placed on light duty.
The lawsuit maintains that the City of Clinton allows for pregnant police officers to perform light duty assignments in the months leading up to their delivery, but has refused to provide this accommodation for firefighters. The city allows for firefighters injured on the job to perform light duty assignments, but does not provide this accommodation for pregnant firefighters, according to the lawsuit.
“That's unconstitutional and it violates the discrimination law,” McQuistion’s attorney, Roxanne Conlin, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims that the city discriminated against McQuistion because of her gender and pregnancy. It also claims she was denied equal protection by disregarding her right to procreate.
In her lawsuit, McQuistion requests judgment against the defendants in an amount that will fully and fairly compensate her for her injuries and damages and for punitive damages “in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants and deter the defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct,” as well as to pay interest, attorney’s fees and other applicable costs.
Attempts to contact Farwell for comments were not successful.