Kristie Small worked for democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar in 2018, she was fired shortly after she asked for maternity leave, which she never received, She was 28 weeks pregnant and with a toddler at home. Cuellar forced her to leave her job using only superficial reasons, weeks later she had a stillbirth. Ironically, he is one of the few democrats against abortion who constantly vote against reforms to protect women’s bodily autonomy.
Small filed a lawsuit against Cuellar’s office in May 2019 alleging sex and pregnancy discrimination under federal law. She also stated that she had previously worked for another congressman for 13 years with no issues. His response was not very convincing: he issued letters from his staff relating to Small’s lacking job performance, but most were written at his orders shortly after she was fired, and after she issued the lawsuit.
He has constantly tried to demerit Kristie Small’s work ethic through small details, all regarding her pregnancy or the care of her smaller daughter: the letters stated failing to catch typos or asking to leave early or not arriving in time (whilst pregnant and being a full time working mom), requesting to leave to pick up her daughter and the fact that she was looking for a new daycare for her child.
Even though Henry Cuellar is a controversial figure in liberal and democratic groups, he still has the support of influential people like House Speaker Nat (D-Calif.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), who continue to endorse his campaign for reelection. Clyburn even participated in a campaign in favor of him in Texas.
Kristie Small’s lawsuit issued by the US District Court for the District of Columbia demanded a jury trial and $300,000 in damages. There were some setbacks, but the jury date was set for October 2021 after Judge McFadden had stated concerns regarding Cuellar’s procedure and justifications for firing Small.
The trial never happened, since Small settled the case with Cuellar’s office in August 2021. The details of the settlement remain private.
It is important to note that politicians like Henry Cuellar may utilize the premise of pro-life arguments, stating they fight for women and the life of children when in reality and practice, women’s welfare tends to be last thing on their minds.