St. Pete’s Sunrise Lanes faces pregnancy discrimination lawsuit

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A St. Petersburg bowling alley could be in hot water after firing a pregnant server. New mom Kandice Hyatt, 30, worked as a lane hostess and bartender at Sunrise Lanes on MLK Street North in the Meadowlawn area of St. Pete.

According to a lawsuit filed against the bowling alley, Hyatt claims she was terminated because of her pregnancy, an act prohibited based on anti-discrimination laws.

According to the lawsuit filed March 23, Hyatt is seeking damages “in excess of” $15,000 for what she alleges is pregnancy discrimination.

Hyatt claims she agreed to work until her due date. She said she fulfilled that promise by working her weekday shifts “without incident,” but did ask for a reduced shift on Saturdays.

She says she was terminated my her manager, named as Terry Joyal, two weeks before her due date for not being able to fulfill her job duties.

Hyatt’s lawsuit calls for back pay plus interest as well as punitive damages. It’s unclear whether Hyatt had intended to return to work after delivering her child. She is, however, also seeking front pay implying that may have been the case.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.

The PDA also states, “if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee.”

That means if Hyatt were unable to perform her job duties because of her pregnancy her employer would have been required by law to place her on some sort of “light duty.”

The lawsuit is still pending.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.