Hacheler Cyrille, a pregnant mother of a 6-year-old and a wheelchair agent at Eulen America contracted to work at John F. Kennedy International Airport, rallied with dozens of her co-workers City Hall on Tuesday at after she was injured on the job and had her request for worker’s compensation rejected.
In May, Cyrille was 17-weeks pregnant and her plea for a less taxing job was met with an equally stressful position handling heavy luggage, which led to her losing her balance on a conveyor belt trying to adjust a suitcase, according to the expectant mother.
Not only was her plea for worker’s compensation dismissed after suffering from contusions and bruising all over her body, but an appeal for a chair to do the new work in her delicate condition was also ignored despite a doctor’s note, according to Cyrille.
“I was four months pregnant and I wanted to have a chair because of the condition I was in,” said Cyrille. “I needed it and then [without it] the accident happened. I almost died and no one called or said anything to me or talk to me, or maybe make a statement.”
Lambasting Eulen America, an airport contractor that provides aviation services, was Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), the elected official whose district includes JFK Airport.
“I hope this is the last time that we have to put you in your place for disrespecting your employees,” said Adams.
Since Eulen did not immediately report the incident, which led to Cyrille being transported to Jamaica Hospital to recover, the mom did not receive worker’s compensation and has not been called back to work for nearly five months, according to elected officials.
“Her employee badge was taken away from her never to be given back with no explanation,” said Adams. “Hacheler, a mother of a son expecting another child was doing the right thing by you Eulen and you have done the wrong thing by a dedicated employee, a righteous employee, a female employee.”
This is the 21st century and pregnancy discrimination is no longer tolerated, added Adams.
“We have stood here for remarkable issues that we should have never had to stand here for in the year 2019,” said Adams. “We are here to tell you that you are officially on notice with the city of New York!”
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) also criticized the aviation contractor for its treatment of its workers.
“Who in their right mind with common sense would think that having a pregnant woman at 17 weeks pregnant would be able to handle bags,” said Simotas. “Clearly the decision was negligent, it was grossly negligent.”
Cyrille, a wheelchair agent at Eulen for three years, did not receive training for the role as a baggage handler when she was assigned the new position, according to 32BJ SEIU, the union helping the airport workers to organize and highlight issues plaguing the company.
“You have to look at whether an employee has the skill set to do what you are asking them to do,” said Simotas. “Hacheler did not and the poor mother to be fell on the conveyor belt.”
Simotas wants Delta Airlines and American Airlines to rethink their contract with Eulen America for aviation support staff until the firm starts taking measures to treat its workers better.
“I’m expecting in a couple of weeks,” said Cyrille. “It’s a girl.”