Wall Street Bank Named in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit in New York State Court

A lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan alleges that executives at a Wall Street bank denied the plaintiff a promotion and reduced her workload when she became pregnant. The banking industry, particularly Wall Street, has been the subject of multiple lawsuits in recent years alleging pregnancy discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination in employment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a), the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(1)(a), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a), but it continues to be a problem all over the country. These cases also point to a broader issue of gender and pregnancy discrimination towards banking customers. While our firm deals with employment issues, it is important to understand how state and federal law also protect against these types of discrimination.

In the present case, the plaintiff worked as a credit sales director for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). She alleges that, during a meeting with a senior executive in June 2011, she informed him that she was pregnant, that she would be taking maternity leave, and that she intended to return to work afterwards. She also states that she asked to be given additional work responsibilities.

The executive allegedly declined her request, expressed skepticism that she would return from maternity leave, and told her she would not be considered for a promotion because of decreased revenue. She claims that her revenue was actually up 35 percent during that period. She also alleges that her top clients were assigned to other traders, all of whom had less experience than her, and that she was given smaller accounts. In response to a formal complaint, her department head allegedly called her a “complainer.” She filed her lawsuit on October 17, 2014.

Numerous lawsuits have alleged pregnancy discrimination against New York banks in recent years. At least one plaintiff has alleged that, after over a decade as a bank vice president, she was “mommy-tracked” when she went on maternity leave. A group of plaintiffs are seeking class certification in their lawsuit against a Wall Street bank, which describes a “boy’s club” environment that excludes women. The plaintiff suing RBC described “systemic discrimination…against women which infected the bank’s personnel practices.”

Some research suggests that gender discrimination also manifests in banks’ practices towards their customers. A 2011 study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, for example, found more than 200 cases in the U.S. of banks rejecting loan applications from women who were pregnant or on maternity leave, as well as instances of loan officers advising women not to apply for loans upon learning that they were pregnant.

Federal and state laws offer some protection against pregnancy discrimination in these types of cases. Both the NYSHRL and the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibit discrimination in lending on the basis of “familial status,” which includes pregnancy. N.Y. Exec. Law § 292(26)(a), 42 U.S.C. § 3602(k). The NYSHRL applies to a wide range of loans and credit transactions, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296-A, while the FHA only applies this prohibition to loans related to residential real estate, 42 U.S.C. § 3605.

The pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent workers in the greater New York City area who have experienced pregnancy discrimination and other unlawful employment practices. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can assist you, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

More Blog Posts:

Jury Awards Over $185 Million in Damages in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, November 26, 2014
Lawsuit Alleging Denial of Maternity Leave for Puppy Is Satire, but Pregnancy Discrimination Is No Joke, New York Employment Attorney Blog, November 19, 2014
Supreme Court Will Consider Whether Pregnancy Discrimination Act Requires Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Employees, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 24, 2014

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