SAN FRANCISCO — A former Alimera Sciences employee has filed a workplace discrimination suit in the Northern District of California, claiming the biopharmaceutical company terminated her because of her pregnancy.
San Francisco County resident Jaymi Lenweaver brought the suit against Georgia-based Alimera Sciences Inc.; Laura Cegala, executive director of human resources; and Cherie Hyder, senior director of medical affairs.
From October 2014 to February 2018, Lenweaver was employed as a medical science liaison for the company and worked from home when she wasn’t out in the field visiting clients in California. Her annual salary was $146,000 plus benefits and bonuses. The lawsuit filed April 5 came after Lenweaver had requested pregnancy leave.
The suit alleges that Cegala misinformed her of the options available to her and “made a comment suggesting that she would not come back to work after her pregnancy.” She began her leave in June 2017 and returned in October 2017. Lenweaver had originally requested six weeks of leave, but extended it because of complications with her child and postpartum depression.
The suit alleges Alimera Sciences “was not happy with the extension” and continued to contact her for work-related issues. Upon returning, she “required a small accommodation” because she was having trouble breastfeeding. The suit claims Alimera Sciences “responded negatively and started to retaliate against” Lenweaver.
“Lenweaver’s supervisor would go on to ask her, repeatedly, how long she's planned to breastfeed,” the complaint said.
The suit also alleges she was turned down for a promotion, saying Hyder informed her she was “ineligible” for the position because she wasn’t 100 percent “up to speed after her maternity leave.” It goes on to allege that incorrect information was provided to the company’s president and CFO, which led to his decision to deny the promotion. Other allegations include Alimera Sciences no longer allowing her to travel on work-related trips with babysitting support personnel or family members.
“This so-called policy change was yet another example of the harassment Ms. Lenweaver received for opting to have a family,” the complaint said.
The suit goes on to allege Alimera accused Lenweaver of violating the company expense guidelines and told her she would have to drive instead of fly to destinations within six hours of her residence.
She subsequently filed a complaint on March 28 against the defendants with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sallie Kim.