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Trouble on the assembly line
Prince says because of past surgeries, her small and large intestines are smaller than normal, requiring her to use the restroom more frequently. The company said she never supplied medical documentation.
Prince said that at 12:45 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2012, she asked the assembly line lead person to relieve her so she could use the restroom, but he did not do so. At 1 p.m. she asked an employee walking by to let the lead person know she needed to go to the restroom, but he still did not let her go. She said she asked him again. “He said he didn’t have time to give me a bathroom break,” she recalled in an interview.
She went back to making liners, she said, and about 1:15 p.m., her lead person walked by her toward the break room. He was twirling a radio phone in one hand and a cup in the other hand, she said.
“I assumed he was totally dismissing me, and wasn’t going to give me a bathroom break,” she told the Star Tribune. “I got panicky and I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to pee in my pants at work.” About 1:25 p.m., she relieved herself in a box.
Five days after the incident, she was fired. The company cited the fact that she had been previously given a “last chance” disciplinary letter on a different matter for some remarks she had made at work.
Unemployed and living in a trailer park, Prince said she struggled to make ends meet.
On June 26, 2013, an arbitrator ruled Prince’s discharge violated the union contract and ordered her reinstated.
Prince now works the third shift and there are no restrictions about when she has to go to the restroom. “It’s comfortable to be in a situation where I know I can go to the bathroom,” she said.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224