A former senior aide to a Texas member of Congress claims in a lawsuit that she was fired for being pregnant.
Kristie Small filed a federal suit in Washington, D.C., on Monday against U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, claiming she lost her job as acting chief of staff last October due to her pregnancy, the Associated Press reported. Small previously filed a similar complaint with a congressional office.
The federal suit says Cuellar told Small she was on a 90-day probationary period he established for new employees after she emailed him to discuss her upcoming maternity leave.
But the lawsuit claims that Small asked other colleagues about the probationary period and found that none of them had been on probation or knew anything about it.
Cuellar later fired Small for “failure to perform during the probationary period,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit says that, “As far as she knows, plaintiff was the only pregnant female employee, and she was the only employee subject to a probationary period,” the AP reported.
The suit argues that the firing violates both sex and pregnancy discrimination sections in the Congressional Accountability Act, a law that governs sexual misconduct claims against lawmakers.
Cuellar denied the allegations through his spokesperson Olya Voytovich, who told the news organization that Cuellar’s office does not discuss details of internal personnel matters, but that the issue will be addressed in court.
“Please be assured, however, that Ms. Small’s complaint does not provide a complete or accurate representation of her employment with the office of Congressman Cuellar or the circumstances of the termination of her employment,” Voytovich wrote in an email.