Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because they are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are dealing with medical issues directly arising from pregnancy or childbirth. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, defines this as a form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). Pregnancy discrimination includes a wide range of possible acts, but an unfortunately common scenario involves termination by an employer upon, or shortly after, learning of an employee’s pregnancy. A recently filed federal lawsuit alleges this sort of situation, except with an added twist—it claims that the defendant employer fired the plaintiff twice during the course of her pregnancy. Lucas v. Service Boss, Inc., No. 3:15-cv-01522, complaint (M.D. Pa., Aug. 5, 2015).
According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant engages in the business of providing various services, “including janitorial, plumbing, landscaping, snow removal,…and many more.” Id. at 2. The plaintiff began working for the defendant in February 2014. She does not identify her job title or describe her job duties in her complaint. The defendant terminated her in April 2014 while she was pregnant, allegedly due to her pregnancy. She states in her complaint that the defendant reinstated her but terminated her again two months later, in June 2014.
The plaintiff alleges that she was fully capable of performing her job duties at both times she was terminated, and that she did not request or receive any accommodations from the defendant because of her pregnancy. She also states that she was a “reliable employee.” Id. at 3. The plaintiff’s supervisors allegedly made “derogatory comments” to her in regard to her pregnancy throughout her period of employment, id., such as:
– Referring to the plaintiff as a “liability”;
– Stating that “she should not be working when pregnant”;
– Calling her “undependable” specifically because of her pregnancy; and
– Suggesting that she “file for disability or welfare.” Id.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where the plaintiff first filed a complaint, issued her a “right to sue” letter, and she filed suit in federal court within 90 days. The complaint asserts a single cause of action for a violation of Title VII and the PDA. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant is an “employer” within the meaning of Title VII because it employed at least 15 people for a period of at least 20 weeks during the calendar year when it employed her. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). She further alleges that she is eligible for protection under Title VII and the PDA because she was pregnant at the time of the events at issue. She cites her two terminations and the management’s “numerous derogatory comments about [her] pregnancy” as evidence that the defendant violated her rights. Lucas at 4.
At Phillips & Associates, our pregnancy discrimination attorneys fight for the rights of New York City employees, former employees, and job applicants. Contact us today, online or at (212) 248-7431, to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled and knowledgeable advocate for employees’ rights.
More Blog Posts:
Study Highlights Difficulties Faced by Employees in New York and Around the U.S. During Pregnancy and After Giving Birth, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 5, 2015
Legal Protection Against Pregnancy Discrimination, Other Unlawful Employment Practices May Depend on Whether One Is an “Employee”, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 30, 2015
The Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25 and Now Offers Some Protections Against Pregnancy Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 16, 2015