A New Jersey woman alleges in a recent lawsuit that her employer, Rite Aid Pharmacy, fired her in violation of anti-discrimination laws because of her pregnancy. Angie Pantaleon began working at Rite Aid’s Ocean Township location in March 2009 and hoped to become a manager. She learned that she was pregnant in October 2010. According to her complaint, filed in a New Jersey state court, she informed her manager of her pregnancy on November 4, 2010, telling her supervisor that she needed a day off for emergency medical attention. She then claims she received a call from her supervisor the following day, which she returned while at her doctor’s office. Her supervisor informed her in that conversation that she was being terminated.
Rite Aid later challenged Pantaleon’s unemployment claim, alleging that the company had fired her for cause. The State Department of Labor and Workforce Development denied Rite Aid’s appeal, holding that the company had not adequately documented any cause for Pantaleon’s firing.
Pantaleon filed suit against Rite Aid, alleging that her termination was unlawful under anti-discrimination statutes and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). Rite Aid’s lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the portion of her lawsuit citing the NJFLA, arguing that that statute does not cover leave taken by an employee for the employee’s own medical condition.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace remains common. During the period from 2000 to 2010, the number of complaints received by the agency rose by 47%, with 6,119 complaints received in 2010 and a high of 6,285 in 2008. At the same time, women comprise nearly half of the American workforce. The EEOC estimates that 80% of women in the workforce will experience a pregnancy at least once, and many now work into the ninth month of pregnancy before taking maternity leave. Many employers nevertheless continue to view pregnant women, and women who have recently given birth, as by definition having less time or attention to devote to work, or having divided loyalties between work and child-rearing responsibilities. Whatever views individuals may have regarding the role of a young parent (almost always a mother), the law prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or having a new child.
Legally, discrimination based on pregnancy is a type of sex or gender discrimination. Employers cannot discriminate in hiring, firing, or other aspects of employment because someone is pregnant. This includes firing or refusing to hire someone based solely on pregnancy, as well as passing someone over for promotion or unreasonably withholding assignments or restricting job duties. New York City’s Human Rights Law, enforced by the City Commission on Human Rights, enforces prohibitions on this sort of discrimination and providing processes for employees and job seekers to obtain relief.
The New York gender discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent employees and job seekers who have been the victims of discrimination in the workplace because of pregnancy. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact the firm today.
New York City Commission on Human Rights Homepage
More Blog Posts:
Kohl’s Faces Claim of Employment Discrimination Based on Medical Condition, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 27, 2011
Protection Against Transgender Discrimination in Employment is Available to Some Employees, but Not All, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 19, 2011
Restaurant Chain Accused of Age Discrimination in EEOC Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 12, 2011