Kristi Rifkin gave birth to son Ian, A pregnant woman has revealed that bosses at a T-Mobile Call Center forced her to clock out every time she needed to use the restroom after her doctor had ordered her to drink more water.
Prior to getting pregnant with her second child, Kristi Rifkin had been working at the call center in Nashville, Tennessee for four years and had always loved her job.
But she claims the company's behavior towards her changed once she become pregnant.
Rifkin’s second pregnancy proved to be a difficult one. She was required to take medication to prevent her going into labor early and each week she had to visit both a regular and a high-risk obstetrician.
As a result of her condition she was advised to drink lots of water which, in turn, resulted in increased trips to the bathroom.
This didn’t sit well with her employer which has a strict policy about breaks and allows employees only two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch.
In addition, workers have to stick rigidly to something known as 'adherence' - a metric that measures the degree to which employees meet their quota for being on the phone.
'You have different numbers you have to meet each month, and if you don’t meet them they can fire you,' explained Rifkin in a blog post on Moms Rising.org.
'The thinking is that if you’re off the phone and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then there are customers waiting to talk to you.'
Rifkin did her best to comply with company rules as she desperately needed the health insurance the job provided.
She drank less water than she was supposed to, but her doctor warned her it wasn't good for her baby so she start drinking more which resulted in increased restroom visits.
Eventually a supervisor pulled her aside and told her to get a note from her doctor explaining that she needed to go to the bathroom regularly throughout the day.
But when Rifkin went to the HR department to get her note cleared she was told that she would have to clock out to go to the bathroom and then clock back in on her return.
She also had to write her hours down and show her supervisor who wanted to ensure she wasn’t taking advantage of the situation.
'I ended up using my vacation time to use the bathroom and to go to doctor's appointments,' said Rifkin, who admits she felt victimized, stressed and anxious about her situation.
The extra scrutiny wasn't helping with her pregnancy either and her blood pressure skyrocketed.
Her doctor finally decided the best course of action was to put her on unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires an employer to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees.
Seven weeks later her son, Ian, was born, on May 14, 2010.
A month and a half after she returned to work only to be summarily fired. She received no severance pay and lost her medical insurance as a result.
Rifkin says she was told it was because she had failed to remove an extra-charge feature from a customer’s account, the commission for which was 12 cents.
T-Mobile spokesperson Glenn A. Zaccara told ABC News that he couldn't comment on a specific individual.
'T-Mobile employees enjoy generous benefits including paid-time-off and short and long-term disability coverage,' he said in an email statement. 'The company has leave of absence policies in line with regulatory requirements.'
Despite advice that Rifkin has a strong case to argue for 'pregnancy discrimination,' she says she has no plans to sue the company as it’s too expensive and Tennessee is an at-will employment state.