A former casino employee has filed a state lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination. She claims that her former employer’s stated reason for firing her, that she said “bye bye” on the telephone instead of “goodbye,” supposedly in violation of company policy, was a pretext to cover the discriminatory intent. Prior to her termination, she alleges an ongoing pattern of harassment and hostility from her supervisor. She has also joined a class action wage lawsuit against the casino, claiming that the casino underpaid workers by requiring them to arrive to work early to get their uniforms on site and leave late to drop them off. Employees received no pay for the extra time.
Melodee Megia, age 37, began working at the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in November 2010, just before the brand-new casino opened its doors to the public. She worked as a “room service sales” employee. Her primary job duty was to answer the telephone and take room service orders. She occasionally did deliveries to guests’ rooms as well.
According to her lawsuit, the harassment began as early as March 2011, when she was approximately three months pregnant. She alleges that she was asked to deliver a “pleasure packet” of condoms to another employee, who would deliver it to a guest’s room. Her supervisor, the director of room service, allegedly remarked that it was “too late” for condoms, and that she “should have thought about it before getting knocked up.” After that, she alleges that the supervisor routinely gave her “dirty” or disapproving looks and occasionally remarked unfavorably about her pregnancy. On at least one occasion, she says that he remarked to another employee about her pregnancy, saying “that is what happens when you have sex.”
The company fired Megia in August 2011, when she was eight months pregnant, giving as a reason her use of the phrase “bye bye” while on the phone with a hotel guest. She contends that this was a pretext, citing the pattern of harassment based on her pregnancy. She filed suit in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas in May 2012, claiming unlawful employment discrimination based on pregnancy. She is seeking unspecified damages that could reportedly amount to two or three years of pay, plus punitive damages.
In support of her claim that the stated reason for her termination was a pretext to cover the discriminatory intent based on her pregnancy, Megia has contended that the casino has no script that requires employees to say “good bye” when speaking to guests, or that even mandates a formal tone on the telephone. The casino has no history of disciplining employees “for being casual and friendly when they say good bye.” Federal and many state laws prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, treating it as a form of gender discrimination. New York City has laws at the state and municipal level protecting workers from discrimination in hiring, firing, job duties, and features or benefits of employment based on pregnancy.
The class action wage suit alleges that the casino required employees to spend at least an extra half hour each day at work picking up and dropping off their work uniforms. The casino also prohibited them from clocking in more than seven minutes before the start of their shifts, or from clocking out more than seven minutes after a shift ended. The time spent changing into and out of their uniforms, the suit alleges, amounted to unpaid work time.
The New York pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates help safeguard the rights protected by anti-discrimination laws for both employees and job seekers. Contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Firing Was Due to Pregnancy Discrimination, Former Bartender Claims in Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, June 7, 2012
Proposed Legislation Would Increase Protections Against Pregnancy Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 22, 2012
EEOC Reviews Pregnancy Discrimination and Discrimination Against Caregiving Workers, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 27, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Cosmopolitan – East – 2010-12-11’ by Cygnusloop99 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.