On Friday, a lawsuit was removed to federal court by an ex-employee against Walgreens in the Jefferson Circuit Court of Kentucky. Plaintiff Cristie Robbins accuses Walgreens of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), violating the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act, retaliation, and gender discrimination.
Before her termination on March 2, Robbins said she was a district manager for Walgreens in Louisville where she managed 13 different stores and had been at the company for 16 years. She said that she had received good performance reviews throughout her time there and was never subject to any sort of discipline.
In May 2020 she began reporting to Aaron West, the Director of Pharmacy and Retail. Even before her eventual termination she said she noticed instances of discrimination and preferential treatment when came to gender. For instance, she claimed that when one of her female peers left her job, West offered the position to multiple male candidates despite having many well qualified female employees who could be promoted to the position. It was only when the male candidates declined that he offered the position to a woman.
The newly promoted employee lived a few hours away from the sites she was managing. To make up for that she requested that she be allowed to work remotely. West denied this request despite the fact that he had a male employee in the same position who he allowed to work remotely. West also made one of his administrators, who was pregnant at the time, stop her remote work and demanded that she come to the office. He provided no explanation for this change of heart, according to the defendant.
Robbins was later given the first poor performance review of her career. The area of Louisville where her stores are located was disproportionately affected by COVID-19 as well as protests and riots surrounding police violence in the summer of 2020. While the stores did suffer, Robbins felt that the review was unfair given the unforeseeable circumstances.
On January 20, Robbins notified West that she was pregnant, and that as a 44 year old it would be a high risk pregnancy. Instead of trying to accommodate her, Robbins said he continued to be critical of her performance. By the end of that month, her blood pressure began spiking and her doctor instructed her to take time off from work. She promptly notified Walgreens of her time off, which she was eligible for under FMLA. After emailing West directly, she was told that she was being terminated from her position.
She claims that this termination is in violation of state and federal acts that are in place and was done on the basis of gender discrimination since pregnancy can only be experienced by th female gender.