Woman Who Twice Contracted Coronavirus Drops Discrimination Suit

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Black woman has dropped her lawsuit against a construction company, in which she alleged she was forced to resign in 2020 in retaliation for taking an extended medical leave and for complaining about discrimination and sexual harassment on the job.

Plaintiff Shalondous Heard also says she took time off after twice contracting within a short time period. Her attorneys filed court papers on Wednesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce G. Iwasaki asking that their client's case against Skanska-Traylor-Shea be dismissed "with prejudice," meaning it cannot be refiled. The court papers do not state if a settlement was reached or if Heard is not pursuing the case for other reasons.

Heard, now 34, sued in April 2021, alleging sexual harassment, gender and racial discrimination, failure to take steps to stop discrimination and harassment, wrongful constructive discharge, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In their court papers, attorneys for Skanska-Traylor-Shea, which has offices on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile area, denied any liability on the part of the company and said her claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The lawyers also maintained Heard was obligated to have her claims heard first by other government agencies before she sued.

Heard was hired by Skanska-Traylor-Shea as a carpenter apprentice in June 2018 and was making $30 an hour when she quit, the suit stated.

Heard was the only woman to hold her position and a majority of her colleagues were male Latinos, according to the suit. She initially did not think her race or gender made a difference, but "she quickly realized that she was the target for harassment and discrimination," the suit stated.

Despite knowing Heard did not understand Spanish, all meetings would be conducted in that language, leaving the plaintiff feeling unequal to her Latino counterparts, the suit stated..

Heard's male co-workers often asked her to sit on their laps and made other inappropriate remarks, but when she complained, she was told to "suck it up," the suit stated.

When her team finally held a meeting about sexual harassment after her many complaints, Heard was subjected to a backlash by colleagues who called her a "snitch" and other unflattering terms, the suit states.

Heard contracted the coronavirus in April 2020, stayed in quarantine for two weeks and returned to work when she obtained a negative result, the suit stated. However, shortly after her return, Heard became ill, was hospitalized and found out she had contracted the coronavirus again, this time with more severe symptoms, according to the suit

Heard went on medical leave from May 2020 until Sept. 1 of that year, and when she returned to work, she requested and was granted a new position that would give her less exposure to the coronavirus, the suit stated. However, she was subsequently told she would have to return to her job as a carpenter apprentice in November 2020, the same job where she twice contracted COVID-19, the suit stated.

"Despite having knowledge of these concerns, (Skanska) gave (Heard) no other choice but to return to her original position," the suit stated. "Realizing that (Skanska) was not going to take any steps to protect her health and safety, (Heard) was forced to resign from her position."

Heard alleged Skanska forced her to resign in retaliation for her complaints for discrimination and harassment and because she became ill and took medical leave.

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