Dr. Alana Curatola sues former employer for pregnancy discrimination

an arrow pointing down

Northwest Eye Surgeons Sued by Former Physician Fired after Maternity Leave

2 Women Smiling

Please see the attached complaint filed today against Sight Partners Physicians P.C., which operates Northwest Eye Surgeons’ seven offices and four outpatient surgical centers in Washington. The suit is being brought by Dr. Alana Curatola, an optometric physician and former employee, who for five years received glowing written performance reviews until she took approved, unpaid maternity leave. Upon her first day back in the office after giving birth, she was fired.

As you’ll read in the complaint, this is a case of gender and pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for taking approved and protected medical leave due to pregnancy and childbirth by an organization more concerned about its bottom line than its employees and patient care. Alana had also pushed for improved working conditions and pay for physicians at the for-profit surgery centers just before her pregnancy leave.


For years, women have faced bias in the workplace. Whereas men can build on their success, women must constantly prove their worth to be seen as equal. The discrimination is even worse for mothers. “Maternal Wall Bias” is the most common type of workplace bias. While the “ideal” worker must be unreservedly devoted to work, the “ideal” new mother must invest similarly intense devotion to her children. And the two can’t co-exist. As a result, motherhood is frequently stereotyped as incompatible with competence or high levels of work effort.

Alana Curatola, O.D. joined Northwest Eye Surgeons in 2017 as a Doctor of Optometry. For the next five years, she excelled in her position and received repeated positive performance feedback.

But the work environment changed for the worse when Northwest Eye Surgeons began operating under Sight Partners, a private equity group. The executives placed profitability over patient care, pressured physicians to see more patients each day, and imposed a new and unpopular wage scale on its physicians. Over the next few months, Alana helped lead the push for fair and equitable compensation for her and other physicians at the for-profit clinic.

Between May 2022 and September 12, 2022, Alana took unpaid maternity leave for her first child. Shortly before her leave began, Alana also arranged for a short-term accommodation with Northwest Eye Surgeons to reduce her schedule when she returned after the birth of her new baby. This included a reduced patient load the first week back, breast pumping breaks, and permission to use her paid time off to spend Wednesdays with her infant for the first two months of her return.

In September, a few days before her return to work, Northwest Eye Surgeons asked Alana to attend a meeting on her first day back to discuss “overpayment of salary.” But when she arrived at the meeting, Alana learned the real reason for the meeting: she was being fired. In a termination letter, Sight Partners/Northwest Eye Surgeons stated they were terminating Alana’s employment agreement “without cause.”

When management announced the firing to staff, the clinic manager claimed—without prompting—that their decision to fire Alana had nothing to do with her maternity leave. But rather than take accountability for unlawfully terminating Alana’s employment, Northwest Eye Surgeons attacked her and falsely claimed she was fired because she “mistreated co-workers.”

That claim was false, and, in the complaint, you’ll find a dozen copies of handwritten cards and text messages to Alana from her former colleagues expressing shock and grief at Northwest Eye Surgeons’ decision to fire her. The evidence will also show that assertive women often face criticism at work. Men do not.

“Working at Northwest Eye Surgeons was more than a job for me,” said Dr. Curatola. “Not only was the work fulfilling my career aspirations, I forged close relationships with so many co-workers and patients. Being fired has hurt me and my family financially at a critical stage of our lives, and it has affected me emotionally.”

Beth Bloom of Bloom Law PLLC, who is representing Dr. Curatola in this matter added, “What employer fires a new mother on her first day back from maternity leave? An employer who only has eyes on the bottom line and puts profits over people. Alana Curatola earned high marks from her patients and colleagues as a physician at Northwest Eye Surgeons. But that all changed when she became pregnant, sought childcare accommodations, and spoke out against the unreasonable demands on physicians in for-profit healthcare. Northwest Eye Surgeons is a threat to women and mothers right here in Washington. It is time for accountability.”

best law firms ranked by best lawyers seattle litigation labour and employment tier 1 2024
topverdict.com top 100 jury verdicts all practice areas Bloom Law PLLC united states 2020
2023-Super-Lawyers Badge
Committed & high-quality representation for employees

Bloom Law PLLC offers trial advocacy, employment litigation, and thorough case investigation you can count on.

This information is provided as a community service. It does not constitute legal advice nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.