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Riverhead woman files maternity discrimination suit

A Riverhead woman who used a surrogate to

A Riverhead woman who used a surrogate to give birth to her twins is suing her employer and a senior human resources analyst in a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts for refusing to grant her paid maternity leave. Photo Credit: AP

A Riverhead woman who says she was denied paid maternity leave after a surrogate gave birth to her children -- a set of twins -- has filed a federal discrimination suit against her employer.

An attorney for the woman, Kara Krill, 38, said Friday in an email that she did not want to speak publicity about the case because it "is a highly personal and emotional case and she is not seeking attention or national exposure."

Her lawyer, Charles F. Rodman, of Needham, Mass., said she suffers from Asherman's Syndrome, "a pregnancy-related medical condition that prevents her from giving birth."

Krill remains in her job as a clinical business manager for Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is headquartered in Lexington, Mass., marketing and selling an antibacterial cream.

Her condition is protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, her lawyer said.

Rodham said, "Ms. Krill gave birth to her biological children through a gestational carrier and was subsequently denied paid maternity leave -- which is offered by her employer."

"It is our contention that Cubist’s denial of her requested maternity leave is discriminatory and that she is entitled to relief under federal and state law. Ms. Krill is looking forward to having her claims determined by the United States District Court.”

A Cubist spokesman, Francis McLoughlin, said in an email that the company does not comment on matters in litigation, and added that "we work really hard to have good relationships with our employees and that has been evidenced by our inclusion on 'Top Places to Work' lists" in such publications as The Boston Globe.

When she was hired in November 2006 she was given a benefits package including "13 weeks paid leave for the birth of a child" for female employees, her suit says.

Krill learned "in the fall of 2006" that she was pregnant, she says in her suit. She gave birth in June 2007 and was given 13 weeks of paid leave, the suit says. By December 2007 she was diagnosed with Asherman's Syndrome, a disability that limits her from carrying a child, the suit says.

In September, 2009, she told her supervisor that she and her husband, Richard, planned to have another child -- this time through a surrogate.

A year later, Krill learned that the surrogate was pregnant, and was carrying Kara and Richard Krill's twins, and they got a "pre-birth order" establishing legal and genetic parentage of the twins. However Cubist told Kara Krill she was only eligible for a paid adoptive parent leave, of five days, Krill's suit says.

"One of the primary purposes of maternity leave is to allow for the bonding between mother and child and to allow for the special care that a newborn requires during its first few months of life," Krill wrote to Cubist, the lawsuit says. She said that, if not for her disability, she would have carried the children herself.

Krill also said she was subjected to harassment and retaliation, "completely destroying her emotional and psychological stability."

The twins were born April 3.

On Aug. 10, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Krill a notice of right to sue, and she did so on Wednesday.

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