Pregnancy discrimination has been illegal for decades. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was enacted in 1978. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides some of the strongest protections against pregnancy discrimination in the U.S. Yet, incredibly, some employers continue to discriminate against pregnant workers. Fortunately, women today know their legal rights. The following 4 women were fired for being pregnant but fought back against discrimination:
- Rosario Juarez, who worked for a California AutoZone, sued the company in 2008, as reported by the Huffington Post. Ms. Juarez brought her case under California’s FEHA. She claimed that she was demoted from store manager after she became pregnant and fired after she filed a lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination. In January 2015, the predominantly male jury found in favor of Ms. Juarez, awarding her $870,000 in damages plus punitive damages (designed to punish AutoZone for outrageous misconduct) in the amount of $185 million. AutoZone appealed, but dropped the appeal on July 20, 2015 as part of a settlement agreement with Ms. Juarez.
- Peggy Young sued UPS in 2008 for refusing to make reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy, as discussed in an article on Fortune. Ms. Young, who had been working as a part-time UPS truck driver for 4 years, took a leave of absence for in vitro fertilization (one of many fertility options available). She became pregnant and, on the advice of her midwife, asked to return to light duty or her regular job as a truck driver, which did not typically require her to lift heavy packages. According to Ms. Young, her manager told her the company offered that type of light duty to employees with physical ailments, such as sleep apnea, but not to pregnant employees. Neither was she allowed to return to her previous job because of liability issues. Peggy Young appealed her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. The case was sent back to the lower court and ultimately settled.
- Kimberly Caselman filed a lawsuit in California state court against Pier 1 Imports, as reported by Huffington Post. Ms. Caselman was a part-time employee working 18 hours a week when she became pregnant. Her employer gave her eight weeks of light duty and then placed her on unpaid leave. Ms. Caselman claims that she did not request leave and that she could have continued working with minor, reasonable accommodations on the part of her employer. She asked to continue working under restrictions, but her request was denied. Ms. Caselman’s lawsuit is a proposed class action.
- Roxy Leger, a bookkeeper for HCS Medical Staffing, was fired for taking maternity leave, as reported in an article in HuffPost Parents. U.S. EEOC filed suit on Ms. Leger’s behalf, and the employer was ordered to pay her $148,340, including $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Legal Help for California Employees Fired for Being Pregnant
If you have been fired for being pregnant, fight back with the help of an experienced pregnancy discrimination attorney. At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we devote our practice exclusively to protecting and enforcing the rights of employees. Our seasoned Orange County lawyers have a reputation for excellence and a track record of success. Contact us for a free consultation.