Category: Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer

Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Can Advance to Trial for FedEx Employee – Demonstrated ‘Adverse Impact’ under Pregnancy Discrimination Act

A former FedEx employee’s “disparate impact” claim can advance to trial under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The plaintiff, Cassandra Adduci, began working at the Memphis hub for FedEx on January 6th, 2014. She was promoted to the position of Material Handler on August 17th, 2014. Per company policy, her duties included loading and unloading aircraft, containers, and FedEx vehicles, as well as being able to lift 75 pounds unassisted.

In December of that year, Adduci became pregnant, and notified her supervisor on December 17th. She also informed him that she had a 15 pound restriction on lifting. Her supervisor requested for her to present medical documentation of the restriction, and on December 24th she presented a doctor’s note indicating a 25 pound restriction, which was to be reduced to 20 pounds later in the pregnancy. Later that same day, her supervisor and a Senior Manager met with her to inform her that she could not continue working because her restriction prevented her from being able to fulfill the job requirement of lifting 75 pounds unassisted. At that time, the Air Freight Ground Services division where Adduci was working part-time maintained a policy that its part-time employees who were placed on non-work related medical leave were ineligible to return to work through their temporary assignments program (TWR).

Adduci was placed on unpaid medical leave by her employers on December 26th, 2014. The company cited safety concerns for herself and other employees if she continued working against doctor’s restrictions. She was also considered by the company to be on FMLA leave effective the same date. That day, the HR manager sent Adduci a memorandum detailing the expectation for her to communicate with them while she was on leave. Other obligations included providing FedEx with a “current treating physician’s statement substantiating continued absence beyond your expected release date, or every 30 days, whichever [was] earlier”.

While on leave, Adduci received several letters from the HR advisor requesting updates to her status. The first letter was dated February 4th, 2015. Adduci responded to this request on March 2nd 2015 by providing a doctor’s note. The second letter from HR, dated April 2nd 2015, advised her that “operational necessity” may have required for her position to be replaced or eliminated. A third letter, also dated April 2nd, states that her medical leave would end on June 23rd of that year per company policy, and she could apply for other positions at the company if she could not meet the requirements for a Materials Handler. The final letter, dated April 29th, 2015, stated that she had failed to provide medical documentation to verify her continued need to be absent and if she didn’t provide such documentation by May 6th, 2015, it would be considered her voluntary resignation. Adduci did not respond to the letter or provide the requested documentation because she considered the letters to be “harassment”. Her employment was terminated effective May 7th, 2015. The notice stated that there was no work available in the offoad/reload area that didn’t require lifting in excess of 25 pounds.

Though her disparate treatment claim failed, Adduci’s disparate impact claim can advance to trial. Evidence was presented to the court which showed FedEx’s policy had an adverse impact on pregnant women – this is because 100% of their TWR requests had been denied. However, there were similarly situated employees (working in the same area, also part-time) whose TWR requests had not been denied. This indicated that the policy had an adverse impact on a protected group.

Contact our lawyers for a pregnancy discrimination case evaluation.

Sources:

http://www.employmentlawdaily.com/index.php/news/pregnant-fedex-worker-denied-temporary-reassignment-advances-disparate-impact-claim/

http://hr.cch.com/eld/AdduciFedExp032118.pdf

pregnancy discrimination lawyers

“Can My Boss Fire Me Because I’m Pregnant?” and Other Pregnancy Discrimination Concerns

Kiyoko Rubio was assigned to the Hyatt House Hotel in February, 2016. She worked as a room attendant without incident until June of that year, when she was told she was being promoted to a supervisory role. Rubio states that “moments later”, she notified her supervisors that were present at the meeting that she was pregnant. Only six days later, she claims she was terminated. She filed a lawsuit in August of this year alleging pregnancy discrimination, and the case is still ongoing.

The scenario is one that occurs more than you would imagine, and also goes unreported more than you would imagine. A woman notifies her employers that she is pregnant, and suddenly she has “performance problems” that were never mentioned before. Perhaps she is placed on a Performance Improvement Plan or given write-ups for unsubstantial reasons. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she is terminated.

There are other signs that suggest pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Failure of the employer to provide time or a location to pump breast milk
  • Failure to accommodate time off for doctor’s appointments
  • Sudden termination in proximity to taking/requesting maternity leave
  • Failure to honor work restrictions placed by a doctor

So why are the employers committing discrimination seeming to go unscathed for their actions? It typically comes down to a few main reasons.

Many Women Fear Retaliation and/or Lasting Career Damage

Those who are still employed fear termination, those who have already been terminated fear that their names will be dragged through the mud with prospective employers.

However, there are a few things to consider if you fall into this category. The first being that both parties in most cases make every effort to resolve the dispute before a lawsuit is filed, so there is no public record of the incident. The second thing to consider is that employers hate being sued just as much as employees hate having to initiate legal action – they have a reputation at risk as well and typically try to avoid negative publicity at all costs. Finally, retaliation for initiating a case could result in additional litigation against the employer.

The Misconception that “At-Will” Means You Have No Recourse

                While “at-will” employment leaves little room for wrongful termination in many common scenarios for disgruntled employees (i.e. the boss just didn’t like me for some reason), there are exemptions to this rule. Discrimination against a protected class (pregnancy discrimination included) would be one of them.

Being Discouraged by Lack of Direct Evidence (Proof)

                As with most types of discrimination lawsuits, pregnancy discrimination is rarely obvious. Sure, it’s possible for an employer to blatantly say that pregnant women don’t belong in the workplace. There are even some that may be foolish enough to put this in writing. But the reality is, 99.99% of cases do not have this component. Instead, attorneys work to prove the pregnancy discrimination using other case facts which arrive at the same conclusion. These facts may include your work/performance history prior to the pregnancy, disputing the phony reasoning for termination given by the employer, or showing that similarly situated employees have experienced the same scenario. One advantage to a pregnancy discrimination case over other types of discrimination is that it eliminates a challenging factor – pregnancy itself is not always obvious. While other traits can be apparent at the time of hire (such as race or gender), pregnancy is not always present or visible.
So, What Now?

The bottom line in all of this – treatment towards pregnant women in the workplace will never change without companies being held accountable. The only way that companies will be held accountable, is if people come forward and take a stand against this behavior. Start by documenting any negative behavior exhibited towards you after your pregnancy is made known – save emails, write down comments and who made them, ask for copies of write-ups or disciplinary actions. Then, present your information to an employment attorney, namely one that specializes in employment matters.

At Aegis Law Firm, we only represent employees against their employers, and specialize in certain case types within that scope. Pregnancy discrimination is one of them. Visit our pregnancy discrimination page to learn more

 

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-collar-women-dont-s_b_8100128.html

http://www.employmentlawdaily.com/index.php/news/recently-promoted-hotel-worker-who-lost-job-six-days-after-reporting-pregnancy-advances-suit/

http://hr.cch.com/ELD/RubioHyatt110817.pdf

pregnancy discrimination

Housing Non Profit Had “No Pregnancy” Policy

Shamira Johnson was a resource technician for the Houston based home and community services organization, United Bible. Johnson, who had always performed her job well, but was terminated suddenly for revealing she was pregnant.

Johnson and then the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that the non-profit organization had a “no pregnancy in the workplace” policy. Employees would became pregnant would not be permitted to continue their employment, nor would pregnant applicants be considered.

The organization, caught with such a policy, admitted that it had terminated Johnson on the basis on her pregnancy. It further admitted that Johnson was a good employee who did not have any issues with carrying out her job functions, other than being pregnant. With those admissions, an EEOC judge awarded Johnson $75,000 for back pay and damages. United Bible failed to prove why pregnant women could not sufficiently and safely perform the functions of a resource technician.

In California, pregnant women and their ability to take leave are protected. If you have experienced discrimination based on pregnancy, give our Aegis attorneys a call.

Source: National Law Review

Robbed at Gunpoint, Pregnant, and Not Getting Paid Properly

A manager of a Houston Popeye’s was terminated by the franchise owner for getting robbed at gunpoint. The manager, Marissa Holcomb, was working her shift when a masked gunman jumped the counter, forcefully knocked another employee to the ground, and held Holcomb at gunpoint, demanding money.

Holcomb handed over $400 cash. The gunman promptly fled after receiving the money. The restaurant owner, Amin Dhanani, was not happy about the incident. He alleged it was Holcomb’s fault that much money was taken because she had failed to follow company policy and kept too much money in the cash register. Holcomb responded by saying the restaurant was too busy to allow the transition to take place.  The owner gave her choice—be fired or pay the money back. Dhanani fired Holcomb three days later, stating it was not her first offense.

Holcomb is pregnant with her 4th child. “I just had a gun to me. I’m not paying the money.” Not too long after, Dhanani realized his mistake—he had just terminated a pregnant woman after she was robbed at gunpoint.

Dhanani offered Holcomb her job back, but she refused, even after he graciously threw in another $2,000 for back pay (so that meant she wasn’t getting paid right either). She wanted to move on from a place that would do things like terminate employees after a robbery.

Source: Grub Street

April 14th is Equal Pay Day

Today is a symbolic day for those who continue to fight for equal pay. Women typically earn $.78 to a man’s $1.00. April 14th marks the time of year when women catch up to men’s salaries from the previous calendar year. Why is that? There are plenty of answers: hours worked, discrimination in the workplace, job choice, etc. We analyze some of these issues below.

Blatant gender discrimination and objectification is not as relevant these days as it was five or six decades ago, however, there are still road blocks to a woman’s success in the employment force. Though women are more likely to go to college than men, some “traditional” concerns still make it difficult for a woman to get passed the same obstacles from the ‘50s and 60s. For example, no matter how educated a woman is, if she decides to have children while pursuing her career, it is to her detriment that a company lacks ample maternity leave or help for childcare.

However, there are always two sides to every story. There are ways women can take the initiative to help narrow the gender wage gap, as well. Statistically, women don’t ask for raises or higher job salaries upon being offered the job like men do. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, only 27% of women asked for a raise during a year period as opposed to 84% of men. Some, though not all, of the gender gap can be explained and solved if women took the money on the table just by asking for it.

There is no easy or simple fix to the wage gender gap. However, both sides need to work together to make it possible for Equal Pay Day’s objective come true.

Source: Wall Street Journal and Washington Post