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Associated Press, Published April 14 2012

S.D. mother sues communications company, alleges sex discrimination

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A Sioux Falls mother who once worked for Midcontinent Communications has filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging sex discrimination.

Donethia Harris filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, saying she was fired when complications with her pregnancy forced her to take an extended leave of absence.

Harris said Midcontinent, a cable television and Internet provider, refused to hire her back because she had “child care concerns.”

Midcontinent spokesman Tom Simmons says he couldn't comment on the case because corporate policy prohibits the discussion of personnel or legal matters

Harris’ complaint alleges that she was terminated in October 2010, four days after being denied a request for additional personal days beyond what was allotted to her through the Family and Medical Leave Act. The act gives qualifying employees 12 weeks of leave for family purposes.

She said the company encouraged her to apply for other positions, but she said she was never called back for an interview when she applied. Harris said her status as a new mother led to her being passed over.

“When Harris contacted Midcontinent to inquire why she was not being interviewed for open positions, the human resources representative suggested that because Harris had child care concerns, Harris should apply for jobs at places that had a more flexible work schedule than Midcontinent,” the complaint said.

Harris was given a “right to sue” letter after an investigation by the South Dakota Department of Labor's Human Rights division.