Tag: 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

UPS: “We’re Here To Help” . . . Unless You’re Pregnant

UPS driver Peggy Young got pregnant, and as her pregnancy advanced her doctor advised she not lift the 70lb packages UPS sometimes required her to deliver.  Although UPS allowed some disabled employees to get help lifting heavy packages or have temporary “light-duty” assignments, UPS refused to do the same for Ms. Young.  UPS’ response was, essentially, “sorry, we’re not required to help pregnant people.”

UPS took the position that while it was required to accommodate disabled workers and workers injured on the job by certain federal and state laws, there was no law specifically requiring it to offer accommodations to pregnant employees, so Ms. Young was out of luck.  As a result, Ms. Young couldn’t work for months and lost thousands of dollars in pay.

Ms. Young disagreed, and sued UPS claiming that its refusal to allow her the same kind of assistance or temporary duty was a kind of discrimination against her because she was pregnant.  After many travails and proceeding through one court after another, Ms. Young’s case finally ended up at the last stop on the line: The United States Supreme Court.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has not lately been known for favoring employees or expanding individuals legal rights, even the conservative Court agreed with Ms. Young in part.  The final decision will make Ms. Young go back through the lower courts to see if she can prove her individual case, but the basic rule set by the Supreme Court is clear: if a company accommodates some temporary disabilities, it has to accommodate pregnancy, too.  In short, the company does not get to pick and choose among those legally protected.

The decision is great news for employees who become pregnant, and in particular those who may worry about the effect of physically difficult jobs and job duties.

Albertson Pregnancy Discrimination

An Alberston’s manager, Reyna Garcia, filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the grocery chain for failing to accommodate her high risk pregnancy with light duty.

After she became pregnant Reyna Garcia told her store manager that she had a history of pre-term delivery and asked that her pregnancy be accommodated through lighter work. The store manager’s response was “I thought you said nothing was going to change?” Her requests to be moved to the deli counter or customer service were turned down. In fact, Ms. Garcia requested reasonable accommodations three times, but the requests were ignored. She had no choice but to continue working because she could not financially afford to stop and needed the health insurance due to her pregnancy. Continue reading “Albertson Pregnancy Discrimination”

Pregnant Employees May be Entitled to Additional Leave

An employee who was disabled as a result of her pregnancy and had exhausted all leave under California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) was entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the California Court of Appeal has ruled in a case of first impression. Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., No. B237761 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2013). Continue reading “Pregnant Employees May be Entitled to Additional Leave”