Archive for the ‘Pregnancy Discrimination’ Category

A refusal to accomodate pregnancy required lifting restrictions or termination in response to pregnancy complications, may be the basis for a discrimination claim under state laws and the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

An African-American pregnant nurse has filed a lawsuit against her employer claiming she lost her job after provided her employer with a doctor’s note stating that she could not lift more than 50 pounds.

Claiming violations of her civil rights and violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Jackie Lewis filed suit against Senior Living Properties, doing business as Overton Healthcare Center, on Oct. 25 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

Lewis was employed by Overton Healthcare Center in Overton since September 2004 as a certified nursing assistant.

On Aug. 15, she informed her employer of her pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. Lewis states she had been to the hospital that day and could not report for work. She also missed work on Sept. 1 due to complications of her pregnancy, but claims she submitted the proper excuse from her doctor.

Ten days later, she was reassigned to a position which would require lifting on her part.

As a result, she submitted a note from her doctor limiting her lifting to no more than 50 pounds. The next day, Lewis’ employment was terminated, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for lost wages, insurance benefits, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental pain and anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages, emotional distress, embarrassment, disappointment, indignation, shame, despair,

If you believe you have been the subject of pregnancy discrimination, file a charge with the EEOC or go to an employment law attorney that handles these types of matters such as Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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Discrimination is illegal against all pregnant employees not only while they are working for employers, but also during the hiring process. The EEOC is trying to educate Tampa’s Capri Home Care.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Capri Home Care, Inc. for refusing to hire a pregnant applicant into an administrative assistant / billing clerk position at its Clearwater, Fla., facility. Capri Home Care is a home health agency that provides skilled nursing and specialized home health care throughout Central Florida.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Capri’s management was so impressed with the applicant at her initial interview that they immediately extended her an offer for the position starting the next day. Following orientation on the applicant’s first day of work, Capri’s sentiment changed after she disclosed she was pregnant. Within an hour, the EEOC said, Capri rescinded its job offer, claiming it had already offered the position to a former employee. A non-pregnant woman was selected several months later, the EEOC said.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District, Tampa Division (EEOC v. Capri Home Care Inc., d/b/a Capri Home Care, Case No. 8:11-cv-02211-RAL-MAP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for woman who was subjected to discrimination. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent and correct pregnancy discrimination, posting of anti-discrimination notices, and training of Capri’s managers and employees about equal employment opportunity laws.

If you believe you have been denied employment because you are pregnant, you should file a claim with the EEOC or speak with an employment law attorney that handles pregnancy discrimination matters. Feel free to call Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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As discussed before, a pregnant employee can face many different legal issues with her employer that impact many different laws including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and possibly the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (GINA). Pregnant employees also need to know about their short term and long term disability insurance plans and how they interact with these laws. Most of these laws clearly cover natural pregnancy and adoption, but what about birth by surrogate?

That issues is now being addressed in a recently filed case. A US businesswoman is suing her employer after she was allegedly denied maternity leave following the birth of her twins through a surrogate mother.

Kara Krill, a clinical business manager at the Massachusetts-based company Cubist Pharmaceuticals, is claiming breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, discrimination on the basis of her disability and gender, and negligent misrepresentation by the company. She is seeking an injunction against Cubist, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Krill developed Asherman’s Syndrome – a condition which rendered her infertile – following the birth of her first child. When she and her husband decided to have a second child they used a surrogate. The resulting twins are biologically related to both Krill and her husband.

Following her first pregnancy, Krill was given 13 weeks of paid leave under the company’s maternity leave policy. However this time Krill says she was informed that she would only be entitled to five days of paid leave and up to $4,000 in expenses – as is offered to adoptive parents. Paternity leave under Cubist’s policy is also five paid days.

In her letter of complaint to Cubist, Krill stated: ‘But for my physical disability, I would be receiving the paid maternity leave offered by Cubist. Accommodating my disability would not require [Cubist] to provide me with any more benefit than other mothers’. Furthermore, she complained of discrimination and verbal abuse by her supervisor in the workplace due to her disability and surrogacy arrangement.

What do you think about Krill’s situation?

If you or someone you know is pregnant, and are not sure how to navigate the maze of legal issues that face you, feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Under Federal law, a woman can not be discriminated against or terminated based upon her being pregnant. Typically, there are also state laws, such as in Florida the Florida Civil Rights Act, that mirror the Federal laws. However, agricultural giant Olam International has not been following the law which has resulted in them being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A woman named Jennifer Heintz claims she was offered a job as an executive assistant to two presidents with Olam. She took the job, but three days later, she was told the company was holding off on filling the position. Four days after that, Olam hired another person to fill the position. Heitz contends that the job offer to her was withdrawn based upon her being pregnant. Apparently, the EEOC agreed since the EEOC, in most cases, does not bring suit on behalf of an empoyee.

A lawyer for the EEOC stated, about pregnancy discrimination:

“It remains a serious problem — women not getting jobs, women being forced out of jobs, essentially being fired, and in this case, hired and fired immediately after they learned of the pregnancy.”

And the problem seems to be getting worse. In the five years from 1997 to 2001, the EEOC received 20809 pregnancy discrimination complaints. In the last five years, they received 29088, a 40% increase.

The EEOC further stated, “There is an added stigma because you become pregnant, therefore in the future and after even you have your child, that you will not be a productive worker,” she said. “That’s simply not true.”

If you believe you have suffered termination or discrimination due to your pregnancy, or have been denied Family Medical Leave, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Well after some time off and getting ready for a jury trial that was postponed by the judge as we were getting ready to select a jury, it is now back to the coal mine and blogging for you readers about developments in employment law.

As you may know, I have blogged in the past about pregnancy discrimination against employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Title VII also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. In addition, most states have comparable state discrimination statutes that apply to pregnancy discrimination.

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers. In addition, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same. Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.

Well apparently the Detroit Police Department did not care to follow this law.

Six female police officers in Detroit settled their pregnancy discrimination lawsuit for over $200,000. As an additional term of the settlement, no employee or applicant will be asked if she is pregnant or anticipates being pregnant. Additionally the department cannot assign an officer to desk duty because she is pregnant unless she requests it or force her to go on unpaid leave.

The police officers alleged they were forced to go on sick leave, even if they could perform other duties. Five of the female officers said they were stuck at home without pay after exhausting sick leave.

So if you believe you have been the subject of pregnancy discrimination, speak to an experienced employment law attorney to advise you of your rights.

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So once again, not really on topic for employment law, but it does fall within the discrimination context so I’m blogging about it today. If you’re starting a family and would like to buy a house to raise your kids in, there’s something you should know. Women who are pregnant and plan to stay home to take care of the baby may not qualify for a mortgage loan. Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, mortgage lenders say they are denying mortgages to expectant couples because they must comply with strict new standards for verifying income.

Based upon new guidelines passed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders are now required to recheck a borrowers income right before the loan closes, not just just when the contract is signed. In addition, the lender must also document that the lenders income is likely to continue for at least three years.

Mortgage lending standards interpret maternity leave as short term disability insurance. Because the disability payments will not continue for three years, Fannie and Freddie mortgage lenders will not count maternity leave as qualifying income. These mortgage lenders will require the new mother to reapply for the mortgage once she returns to work.

Mortgage lenders say they are not discriminating against pregnancy but against income. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits lenders from discriminating against gender and marital status. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act also bars lenders from asking about your plans for having or raising children. However, lenders can ask questions about expenses related to your dependents. The federal government moved to make pregnancy discrimination illegal in 1978. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act declares that discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is unlawful sex discrimination. But the Pregnancy Discrimination Act only applies to employment, not borrowing.

So the question is whether this pregnancy mortgage discrimination can be brought under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act claiming gender discrimination or a violation of some other federal or state law. Would love to test this policy out in the courts. Someone bring me a test case please?

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As some of you may know, pursuant to Federal law and most state laws, its is illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to also prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers. Pregnancy discrimination is also prohibited in the areas of maternity leave, fringe benefits and health benefits.

Well Lucasfilm found about personally about the realities of pregnancy discrimination. After three weeks of trial and four days of jury deliberation, a California jury found against Lucas for pregnancy discrimination.

In June 2008, Julie Veronese signed a 30-day contract that she considered a tryout for a permanent full-time position. But a few days later, she informed Patel that she was pregnant, and her start date was delayed indefinitely while Veronese coped with morning sickness. In the ensuing weeks, as Veronese remained ill, neither she nor Lucasfilm committed to a new start date. Finally, at the end of July, the parties agreed that Veronese would start work on Aug. 11, but Lucasfilm said the position would be a three-week “project” job.

Veronese complained, telling Lucasfilm she felt the position had been changed because of her pregnancy. A termination letter was sent to Veronese the next day.

But Veronese’s lawyers found internal e-mails where Lucasfilm supervisors express concerns about the pregnancy. And her supervisor herself acknowledged that she improperly asked Veronese during the interview process about her plans to raise a family.

The 12-member jury, which was unanimous or nearly unanimous on each claim, ruled that Veronese’s pregnancy was a “motivating reason” for her termination. The jury concluded that Lucasfilm committed pregnancy discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to promote Veronese to a full-time position, and failure to prevent discrimination.

If you believe you have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination, seek the counsel of an experienced employment law attorney.

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Many employees come to my office to consult with me about sexual harassment or discrimination based upon race, pregnancy, gender or age. On some occasions, the employee may still be employed by the employer. In those instances I always encourage them to file complaints or reports with human resources to allow the employer to use its internal procedures to address the problem. In the event that the employer does not address the issues, I will than encourage the employee to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

An EEOC Charge can either be filed with the assistance and representation of counsel or by the employee on their own. If you do it on your own, the EEOC will give you the forms and guidance on how to prepare the Charge of Discrimination. Once a complaint is made to HR or the EEOC, the employer is not legally allowed to retaliate or discriminate against you for making these complaints. However, that does not always mean the employer will follow the rules so you should keep careful notes and documentation of all complaints made, to whom you made them, and any actions taken against you as a result of these complaints.

The EEOC has a link on its website that you can use to do an online assessment of whether or not you should bring a charge with the EEOC. The link is at https://egov.eeoc.gov/eas/.

It is important to know however that if you choose to file an EEOC Charge, you must do so within 180 days or 300 days of the claimed discrimination or harassment, so don’t wait too long to take this action. You get 300 days if your state has a an agency similar to the EEOC such as in Florida, there is the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”). You can fill out a charge in person at one of the EEOC offices or do it by mail.

Once the EEOC Charge is filed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, has a staff of investigators who investigate your complaints. The employer is supposed to receive a copy of your Charge within ten days. They allow the employer an opportunity to file a formal response and generally will then ask for a reply from the employee. Sometimes, they will seek to interview the employee in person or over the telephone to get more information for their investigation. Sometimes the investigators will seek documents from the employer. Sometimes the EEOC will offer the parties to mediate the claims prior to further investigations. Keep in mind that if you choose to file an EEOC charge on your own, without an attorney, you will not have the support and guidance of an attorney to help you through this process.

Once the EEOC completes its investigation, they will issue either a “cause determination” finding that they believed discrimination took place or will issues a “Notice of Suit Rights” which states that although they don’t believe discrimination took place, you can file a legal action against the employer if you choose to do so. If the EEOC issues a “cause” determination, they can choose to file a lawsuit on your behalf, but are not required to do so.

Upon receipt of your Notice from the EEOC, if you are going to file a lawsuit, you must do so quickly since any Federal claims under the ADA, Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, etc must be filed within 90 days. In Florida and other states, there are also state statutes which provide you a longer time to file suit.

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