You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! Boss Terminates 3 Expectant Mothers Within 6 Months
Women awarded over $6.2 million for discrimination
Believe it or not, pregnancy discrimination remains a substantial problem for working women. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that it received over 3,500 complaints of pregnancy discrimination in 2015.
While some pregnancy discrimination may be subtle – a woman is passed over for a promotion or loses perks, for example – some unlawful discrimination is much more obvious.
Let’s take a look at what happened when one employer decided that he could no longer tolerate expectant mothers on his staff.
Triple-play in the Nursery
Marlena Santana, Yasminda Davis and Melissa Rodriguez worked as administrative staffers at GEB Medical Management – that is, they worked there until they got pregnant. After that, the three expectant mothers were fired within a six-month period.
Their boss, Bruce Paswall, allegedly made it known that he didn’t want to deal with pregnant workers or new mothers. He recounted a story in which an employee asked for a raise after returning from maternity leave and then quit without notice.
Paswall didn’t want a repeat incident. In fact, when he interviewed new job candidates, he inquired about their plans to have children and encouraged them not to, according to the employees’ lawsuit.
However, Davis began having pregnancy symptoms. She told the office manager that she was going to visit an obstetrician. Upon returning to work after her appointment, Davis found that her desk had been cleared and her work had been reassigned. Paswell told her that her performance was substandard, and that she should resign.
Davis’s pregnancy was confirmed later that week. Two days after that she was fired.
Meanwhile, Santana had disclosed her pregnancy three or four months earlier. Not long after her announcement, she claims that Paswell stopped speaking to her. She says that her work area was moved to a dusty storage area, her hours were cut, and the bulk of her work was reassigned to a new hire.
The day after Davis was terminated, Santana was also fired for “performance issues.”
Two months later, Rodriguez announced that she was expecting. She alleges that after that, her workload greatly increased and Paswell ignored her. She also claims that the office manager became hostile and accused her of wearing a girdle to conceal her pregnancy. She says that he ordered her to get an ultrasound at a company-selected medical office to verify her due date, and to have the test results sent directly to him.
Several weeks later, Rodriguez was terminated for supposed performance reasons.
The three women sued for discrimination.
The company countered that they had been fired due to poor performance.
However, after a month-long trial, the jury sided with the workers. The former employees were awarded $4.5 million in compensatory damages, $181,000 in lost wages, and $1.5 million in punitive damages.
(The case discussed here is Marlena Santana, Yasminda Davis & Melissa Rodriguez v. G.E.B. Medical Management Inc., Bruce Paswall & Peter Ayende.)
What You Need to Know
At Murphy Law Group, we are dedicated to helping new and expectant mothers fight against discrimination in the workplace. If you feel that you’ve been subjected to unlawful treatment because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, contact us to discuss your situation.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.