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A pregnant, epileptic worker was fired by the state health exchange, her lawsuit says

A Tacoma woman fired by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has sued the organization, alleging she was discriminated against for being pregnant and epileptic.

In her lawsuit, Mayloni King, 40, argues she had been a productive employee, and that managers treated her in a manner that violated state and federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand said in a statement this week that the organization is aware of the allegations, but does not comment about ongoing legal matters.

State lawmakers created the exchange in 2011, as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act, to help insure people who don’t have coverage through an employer.

The exhange runs Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online marketplace for those plans.

King filed her lawsuit Oct. 27 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, and seeks unspecified damages.

It gives this account of what happened while she was employed there:

The exchange hired King as a document management specialist in 2013, and she was promoted a few months later.

“She consistently arrived early to work, stayed late, took on additional job duties as needed, and made herself available to answer questions for un-trained and under-trained staff,” the lawsuit states.

In 2014, six months after King was hired, she told her supervisor she was pregnant. The next month King’s father died, and a couple months after that her husband had major surgery.

In December that year, she asked for information about working from home ahead of maternity leave “to accommodate her pregnancy-related and epilepsy-related doctor’s appointments,” the lawsuit says.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order in 2014 that encouraged employers to increase opportunities for employees to work from home, the suit notes.

King’s supervisor told her that wasn’t possible, even though at the time two other employees — who were not pregnant or disabled — were being allowed flexibility to work from home. For example, the suit states, when they did not feel well or had a child who was sick.

King filed a discrimination and harassment complaint against the supervisor later that month. At that point she was in her third trimester, and having increased anxiety at work, which increased her seizures.

The next month, January 2015, she was hospitalized for preeclampsia, and ordered on bed rest until the baby was born at the end of the month. She took her unpaid maternity leave early to follow the order.

Meanwhile, she was making less than the starting salary of others hired after her, who had less experience.

While on maternity leave she applied for two senior-level positions, which were given to employees she had trained and managed.

When she returned to work in March 2015, she found she’d been demoted to an entry-level position.

The next day, she got a negative review from managers that “downplayed her consistently stellar work performance” and “included defamatory statements about plaintiff Mayloni’s ethics as an employee,” the lawsuit says.

In the following months, according to the suit, King “focused on her work, striving to ignore that her epilepsy symptoms began to worsen, including severe anxiety and workplace seizures.”

At the direction of her doctor, she applied to work from home full-time in June 2015, and was approved to do so the next month.

King got a positive performance review that August from a new supervisor, who noted King had been more productive working from home.

In October 2015, King told managers she was pregnant again, and due to give birth to her second child in March.

About a week later, she was told she was being terminated. A letter confirming that said the organization was “unable to provide reasonable accommodation for your current medical condition.”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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