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pregnancy discrimination

Former Google Employee’s Pregnancy Discrimination Suit Moves Foreward

A former Google employee whose memo alleging discrimination against pregnant women went viral is moving forward with her claim against the company.

“As a Google employee I witnessed pregnancy discrimination, and then was faced with it in my own life,” Chelsey Glasson, who worked at the Mountain View, Calif. company for more than five years as a user research lead and manager, said in a statement Wednesday. “And, like so many women, I felt threatened by retaliation for reporting the discrimination. This memo, which I published internally at Google and has been read by over 11,000 Google employees, states clearly why we must continue to fight this bias.”

Glasson added that employees who bring up pregnancy discrimination are often silenced or forced to suffer consequences that damage their careers in the long term.

“With a goal of shedding light on pregnancy discrimination and advocating for needed public policy and other changes, I will move forward with legal action,” she writes.

Two Google employees who helped to organize the 20,000-strong global walkout also alleged that the tech giant retaliated against them — a claim that the search giant has denied. The massive walkout was in response to issues of sexual harassment, as well as pay inequity and racial justice.

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Major Law Firm Sued by 6 Women For Pregnancy Discrimination

Jones Day, one of the world’s largest, wealthiest law firms, was sued on Wednesday by six former female associates who accused it of engaging in gender and pregnancy discrimination by underpaying them, thwarting their advancement and pushing them out once they had children.

In their lawsuit, the women say that although Jones Day hires male and female associates in roughly equal numbers, the best work goes to men and that men are paid better and promoted more often “even when their legal skills are notably deficient.”

“In Jones Day’s fraternity culture,” the complaint says, “male brotherhood is affirmed and strengthened by comments and conduct that derogate women, leaving female associates to choose between capitulation and exclusion.”

The lawsuit is the latest effort in a continuing fight to prevent employers in many fields from penalizing female workers for having children.

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EEOC Sues Walmart for Pregnancy Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Saturday alleging that Walmart has violated federal law by discriminating against pregnant workers.

Pregnant employees were not given the chance to participate in a company program that allowed light-duty lifting while other workers with lifting restrictions were accommodated at Walmart’s distribution center in Menomonie, Wisconsin, EEOC’s lawsuit alleges.

“What our investigation indicated is that Walmart had a robust light duty program that allowed workers with lifting restrictions to be accommodated,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation. “But Walmart deprived pregnant workers of the opportunity to participate in its light duty program. This amounted to pregnancy discrimination, which violates federal law.”

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Designer Nicole Miller Hit With Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

nicole miller

Pregnancy is not in fashion at Nicole Miller, a lawsuit charges.

A former high-level employee of the Midtown-based women’s fashion line alleges that its eponymous president took an “unsympathetic and truly reprehensible disposition” toward a pregnant staffer.

Wendy Simchi-Levi, 34, says in the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that she was an employee in good standing, reporting directly to Miller, until she revealed she was 20 weeks pregnant with twins in September.

During the meeting, Miller noted that Simchi-Levi had been hired in July, the suit claims.

“Oh, so you knew you were pregnant when you interviewed?” Miller asked, according to papers.

“The disdain in Ms. Miller’s voice was impossible to miss,” the suit adds.

“You won’t want to come back to work after having twins,” Miller allegedly said.

 The statement “evinces Ms. Miller’s undeniable discriminatory animus,” papers charge.

Following that conversation, Miller ostracized Simchi-Levi, even refusing to address her directly during meetings, papers claim.

“Nicole hates you,” Simchi-Levi’s co-workers allegedly told her.

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US Supreme Court ruled against UPS in pregnancy discrimination case yesterday

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed a victory to Peggy Young and pregnant workers in Young v. United Parcel Service. Now it’s back to the Fourth Circuit to hash out the case.
“The Court has put employers on notice: pregnancy is not a reason to discriminate. The Court said that if you accommodate most non-pregnant workers who need it but not most pregnant workers who need it, you may be found guilty of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center in a statement in response to the ruling.
Young, whose boss at UPS told her to take unpaid leave when she asked for a break from heavy lifting on her job because of her pregnancy, sued UPS for discrimination. A district court ruled in favor of UPS on a summary judgment motion, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, saying that UPS had created a “pregnancy-blind policy.”
Young had asked for “light duty” and pointed out that UPS gave “light duty” to other non-pregnant employees, including those injured on the job and employees with a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court asks: “Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?”
That’s a question a lot of pregnant women have been asking lately. The EEOC has identified accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as a national enforcement priority through 2016.
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The Harvard Business Review published a pretty good analysis and treatment of what the law means for pregnant workers. Here is a key take away for what employers can make sure that they’re on the right side of the law by taking the following steps:
  • Ensure that light duty policies that apply to some categories of employees, such as those with on-the-job injuries, apply also to pregnant women.
  • Take a good look at other workplace policies to ensure compliance with both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act’s mandates to provide accommodations to pregnant women. Employers in cities and states that have pregnancy accommodation laws will need to ensure compliance with those laws’ often more expansive requirements as well. Employers should review at least the following types of policies to ensure pregnant women are not disfavored: accommodation, leave, scheduling, and attendance. The easiest solution may be to simply amend existing policies and procedures to include accommodations on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (including lactation).
  • Establish procedures for determining what accommodations are necessary and appropriate.
  • Train supervisors about how to recognize and respond to pregnant employees’ need for accommodation.

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Ex ‘Price is Right’ model can retry her $7.7M pregnancy discrimination suit

Another high-profile pregnancy discrimination law suit is prepped for another round. 
A California appeals court will allow former Price is Right model Brandi Cochran to appeal a lower court’s decision to throw out her $8.5 Million dollar pregnancy discrimination law suit award. (Which was later reduced to $7.7 million)
Cochran had alleged in 2010 that show producers made comment about her pregnancy weight and called it a “bad baby story”, then fired her when she returned from maternity leave after having her baby. (Sadly, one of the twins she was carrying died in child birth.)
After the award, a trial court that threw out the award because right before the jury deliberated Cochran’s case, the California Supreme court in another case changed the standard juries should consider when deciding employment discrimination cases. Instead of finding if discrimination was a “motivating” factor in the firing, juries and judges now have to find if it is “substantial” factor. 
Cochrane was awarded a new trial but the producers of the show, Freemantle Media wanted to base the trial on evidence submitted in the initial case. There, the show argued that because producers were switching up the show from the Bob Barker era to the Drew Carey era when the models would interact more with the host and contestants, they were planning to fire Cochran anyway.
They may have been able to win using First Amendment grounds given how the show The Bachelor was able to escape a racial discrimination when a judge in that case found that “casting decisions are part and parcel of the Shows’ creative content.” Also, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, the producers of the NBC show Friends avoided a lawsuit arguing that sexist jokes among male writers was part of the creative process. 
But no dice! Cochran will have her retrial and another bite at the apple and chance to convince a new jury that she was fired because of her pregnancy. 

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Supreme Court hears UPS Pregnancy discrimination case

The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled with how to balance workplace rights for pregnant women, in a case brought against United Parcel Service by a former delivery driver.

The court took the case to clarify the meaning of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as nonpregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” During an hourlong oral argument, the justices sent no clear signals of how they would rule.

Peggy Young, the driver, alleged UPS discriminated against her after she became pregnant in 2006, saying the company wouldn’t accommodate doctor-recommended lifting restrictions, forcing her to take unpaid leave and lose medical coverage. UPS said its policies didn’t discriminate because they provided across-the-board rules accommodating workers injured on the job, but not those who faced lifting restrictions because of off-the-job medical conditions.

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Supreme Court to decide on pregnancy discrimination

This December, the US Supreme Court will hear the case of a UPS worker who sued the shipping company for making her take unpaid leave when she got pregnant. 
The complainant Peggy Young requested to be given lighter duty or other tasks during her pregnancy but was told to take unpaid leave instead. 
The company argued that it only had to make special accommodations for 
injured employees and not for pregnant ones under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
Young argues the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act says you have to treat pregnant women the same as other employees with short-term disabilities.
The U.S. Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) writes that the court will consider “whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”

Exec sues Mets for out-of-wedlock pregnancy discrimination

The Mets first woman senior vice president is suing the Mets for pregnancy discrimination, claiming co-owner and chief operations officer Jeff Wilpon made several hostile statements to and about her unwed pregnancy while she worked for the company.
Leigh Castergine, a executive in the organization’s ticketing department,  alleged in her suit that she lost her job because Wilpon was “morally opposed” to her  being pregnant and unmarried.
The suit states that Wilpon told her “that when she gets a ring she will make more money and get a bigger bonus,” and in a meeting over a proposed ad deal said,  “I am as morally opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to Leigh having this baby without being married.” 
She said Wilpon’s son, Fred told Casterine’s co-workers to to not show interest in her unborn child.
“Do not rub her belly,” the lawsuit claims he warned them. “Don’t ask how she’s doing. She’s not sick, she’s pregnant.”
Castergine, complained to no resolution many times to human resources department, before filing a legal suit, court documents state. She said she was asked to drop her complaints in exchange to stay a year, rather than being immediately fired for low ticket sales.
When she rejected the deal and told her bosses she planned to file suit, they fired her on the spot, the suit states. 

‘Pregnancy Not Part of Uniform,’ Saks Fifth Avenue D&G MakeUp Counter Employee’s Discrimination Law Suit Claims

Before Tiffany Kantrowitz got pregnant she says a supervisor discouraged her from the idea, telling the Procter & Gamble Co‘s Saks Fifth Avenue Dolce & Gabbana shop make up girl that “pregnancy is not part of the uniform.”

That supervisor’s statements were among allegations listed in a lawsuit Kantrowitz brought last Friday after she was fired last February 2015 after actually getting pregnant, Kantrowitz stated. She claims she was penalized for asking to take breaks to get off of her feet.

Neither Dolce and Gabbana nor Saks was named in the lawsuit which alleges P&G violated federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and a similar New York City law.

Instead of accommodating Kantrowitz’s request, the lawsuit said, P&G forced her to take breaks that were deducted from the leave time she was entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act. She says she planned to take leave only after her baby was born.

But P&G said she was fired for taking “tester” items for personal use, according to the lawsuit. But P&G encouraged its cosmetics staff to do so, the suit says, and never warned Kantrowitz against it during her time with the company.

Pregnancy discrimination has been a top issue for groups that focus on employment protections for women, along with pay parity and wage increases in industries that employ disproportionate numbers of women.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that United Parcel Service Inc improperly denied a pregnant driver’s request not to lift heavy packages. The court, in a 6-3 decision, said employers must offer legitimate business reasons to deny accommodations to pregnant employees and cannot simply claim it would be expensive or inconvenient.

h/t Bangor  Daily News