Lawsuit alleges discrimination over maternity leave at Renton clinic

Northwest Eye Surgeons terminated her employment the day she returned from unpaid maternity leave on Sept. 12, 2022.

A female optometric physician at a Renton clinic has filed a lawsuit against a corporation that operates multiple eye surgery practices in Washington, alleging gender and pregnancy discrimination following her dismissal after she returned from maternity leave.

Dr. Alana Curatola, an optometric physician, filed a complaint in King County against Sight Partners Physicians P.C. on March 12. Sight Partners Physicians, a Washington-based private equity group, owns and operates Northwest Eye Surgeons, a practice with seven offices and four outpatient surgical centers in the state, including a clinic in Renton where Curatola primarily worked.

According to Curatola’s complaint for damages, Northwest Eye Surgeons terminated Curatola’s employment the day she returned from unpaid maternity leave on Sept. 12, 2022. According to the complaint, Curatola took unpaid maternity leave from May 2022 to September 2022.

Alana Curatola’s legal team first filed charges against Sight Partners Physician P.C. through the National Labor Relations Board on March 8, 2023.

The National Labor Relations Board announced the decision in October 2023 to partially dismiss Curatola’s allegations regarding sex and pregnancy discrimination, pregnancy accommodation retaliation, and family leave retaliation as a result of the board’s lack of jurisdiction over the allegations.

Curatola’s complaint in King County Superior Court lists five causes of action, including gender and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation against paid family medical leave, retaliation against pregnancy accomodation, retaliation for discussion and inquiry of wages, and wrongful discharge.

Curatola’s complaint seeks damages against Sight Partners Physicians, including judicial action to “[ensure] current and future ... employees are free from unlawful discrimination and retaliation,” lost wages, damages for emotional harm, and more.

Sight Partners Physicians have not filed an answer to Curatola’s complaint in King County Superior Court as of March 20.

The King County Superior Court scheduled a trial date for the lawsuit for March 17, 2025.