Ex-Encore Boston Harbor Worker Alleges Pregnancy Led To Discrimination, Firing

Posted on: April 1, 2021, 12:56h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2021, 04:36h.

A former worker at Encore Boston Harbor alleges in a lawsuit that she was discriminated against by the casino after becoming pregnant.

Encore Boston Harbor casino discrimination
A cocktail server at Encore Boston Harbor serves a patron a drink on the casino floor. A former front desk worker at the property claims in a lawsuit that she was discriminated against for being pregnant. (Image: Everett Leader-Herald)

Ana Garcia-Risk says she was hired in May of 2019 by the Wynn Resorts property as a front-desk employee. She claims she was eventually terminated after she became pregnant and could not comfortably perform her job. 

In a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court against the casino resort, Garcia-Risk says Wynn Resorts did not approve the requests that would have allowed her to continue working. She claims she was barred from wearing more comfortable shoes instead of heels and was not allowed to work different shifts to accommodate her bouts with morning sickness.

Garcia-Risk contends that she was assessed negative “points” for absences and being late because of her morning sickness. She says Wynn Resorts fired her in February of 2020. 

Reached by The Boston Globe, a spokesperson for Encore Boston Harbor declined to comment, citing a company policy of not discussing ongoing legal matters in the media.  

Encore Boston Harbor, a $2.6 billion project, opened in June of 2019. Wynn Resorts was forced to shutter the integrated casino resort in mid-March of last year on state orders. In June, Encore Boston announced that roughly 3,000 employees were being furloughed.

Prior to the pandemic, Encore Boston employed 4,421 people, including 3,303 full-time and 1,118 part-time workers. 

Unspecified Damages

Garcia-Risk is seeking compensation for her firing from Wynn Resorts, which operates in Massachusetts under the entity Wynn MA, LLC. 

“The plaintiff seeks, including without limitation, her lost wages, emotional distress damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest,” the lawsuit states. “The amount is to exceed $50,000, her attorneys said in the filing.

Along with Wynn Resorts, Brady Murray, the assistant front office manager at Encore Boston Harbor, is named as a defendant. 

“Due to her pregnancy, Ms. Garcia-Risk experienced extreme fatigue, morning sickness, vomiting, loss of appetite and other related health/medical issues and conditions,” her attorneys argue. “The Defendants discriminated against Ms. Garcia-Risk on the basis of her pregnancy and/or gender/sex. The Company failed to engage in a good faith, timely and interactive process with Ms. Garcia-Risk.”

The lawsuit brings seven counts of action against the casino, including sex/gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, failure to provide a reasonable employment accommodation, and retaliation. 

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.

“Generally, employers may not treat employees or job applicants less favorably than other employees based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, and have an obligation to accommodate pregnant workers,” explains the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). 

The state law says examples of a “reasonable accommodation” include more frequent or longer breaks, time off, providing equipment or seating, and a modified work schedule.