This Week Pregnancy Discrimination Strikes Again and More

In a recently filed case, a California court saw an office assistant claiming that she was discriminated against due to her pregnancy and ultimately wrongfully terminated in retaliation.  The Plaintiff filed the lawsuit against both her staffing agency, Williams Lea, Inc., and the client law firm Arnold & Porter, LLP.  Here, the victim found out that she was pregnant a few months after starting her assignment at the firm.  When she approached her supervisor at the staffing agency, she was told to keep it a secret.  However, she was constantly asked inappropriate questions by her colleagues about her pregnancy and ability to do the work.  According to the Complaint, the Plaintiff did an exceptional job and was slated to become a full time employee at the firm.  Unfortunately, she was terminated right after her probationary period ended.

In a recent Supreme Court decision, the field of Pregnancy Discrimination changed overnight.  The Court in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. held that the burden shifting analysis of McDonnell Douglas, which has applied to disparate treatment cases since 1973, is now applicable to Pregnancy Discrimination Act accommodation cases.  See the following blog about the McDonnell Douglas test.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act made it illegal for employers to discriminate against or harass an employee due to her pregnancy.  It also includes strict criteria protecting the pregnancy-related leave, outlines eligibility, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee when requested (or upon the advice of her health care provider), and ensures that the woman who took the pregnancy-related leave is permitted to return and is guaranteed her same position.  Our office routinely sees cases where the employer does not reinstate the woman to a comparable position.  The only time that this is permitted under law is when the same position is no longer available such as a layoff or plant closure.  The employer must still offer a position that is comparable in pay, location, content, and promotional opportunities (unless the employer can prove that no comparable position exists).

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible discrimination or retaliation based on your pregnancy, prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.