Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

Three associates at Morrison & Foerster have filed a would-be $100 million class-action suit that claims the firm maintains a “family-friendly façade” even as it discriminates against lawyer moms.

The lawyers filed the suit Monday in San Francisco federal court.

The suit claims that female lawyers who return from maternity leave are not promoted with the rest of their associate class, resulting in lower pay. In addition, the suit says, the firm creates unrealistic work expectations for lawyer moms while giving them insufficient work and opportunities to meet those expectations.

The suit alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, and California laws regarding equal pay, fair employment and family rights.

The three plaintiffs, all California associates, are identified as Jane Does 1, 2 and 3.

According to the suit, Morrison & Foerster boasts of its work-life programs, including parental leave, parental transition time upon returning to the firm, flexible work options and reduced-hours work.

But the reality “is far from the firm’s family-friendly façade,” the suit says. “MoFo may allow maternity leave on paper, but when women take advantage of the firm’s ‘generous’ maternity leave, or notify the firm that they have children, they are routinely held back and set up to fail.”

The suit goes on to say that when female lawyers become mothers, Morrison & Foerster demands they prove their commitment by working more hours. Then, when the lawyer moms seek more work, “they are denied assignments because of stereotype-driven perceptions that they lack commitment to their jobs. The stereotype becomes self-reinforcing, and women become stuck.”

All three plaintiffs said that after they returned from maternity leave, they discovered through the firm’s online portal that they had not been promoted with the rest of their associate class. Yet the firm increased their external billing rates, an issue that “was rectified” after two of the associates complained.

When she first joined the firm, Jane Doe 1 says, one of her supervising partners told her “parents tend not to do well in this group.” The partner also allegedly told Doe “we didn’t realize you were a parent when we extended you the offer,” even though Doe was up-front about having a child in conversations with three partners and human resources. The partner who made the comments about parenthood gave Jane Doe 1 fewer opportunities than lawyers without children, the suit says.

Women make up about 46 percent of Morrison & Foerster’s associates, but only about 22 percent of the firm’s 248 partners, the suit says.

In a statement, a Morrison & Foerster spokesperson said the firm “has a long and proven track record of supporting and advancing our associates as they return from maternity leave. We vigorously dispute this claim and are confident that the firm will be vindicated.”

Three-quarters of women entering the workforce today will become pregnant at least once while employed, and many will work throughout their pregnancies. There are several federal laws that have been enacted as a means of preventing discrimination against pregnant employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all provide some means of protection for pregnant workers. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities act was specifically amended in 2008 to include impairments that may arise in pregnancy including hypertension, diabetes and severe nausea.

Cases similar to this one occur all too often. If you feel that you or someone you know has been discriminated against in the workplace, then it is important that you get in touch with our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. We will listen to your case, and fight to get you any financial compensation you deserve for what you have been through. We routinely handle collective and class action lawsuits as well.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit on Dec. 22 accusing a Christian camp of  demoting a worker due to her pregnancy and related medical issues, then fired her for standing up for her rights.

According to the EEOC, the woman worked as a registrar for the camp, which manages a facility 90 miles outside Houston that hosts youth summer camps and retreats. The company demoted the woman within a week of learning she had developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy.

The woman apparently expressed to the company’s executive director that the demotion was a form of discrimination. The organization responded by firing her, according to reports.

The EEOC seeks a permanent injunction to ban the company from engaging in sex discrimination in the future, as well as back pay for the woman.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted to stop discrimination of pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace. Because of this, employers are strictly prohibited from inquiring if prospective female employees are pregnant or plan to have children during interviews. When pregnancy is a factor in hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, or benefits, this is discrimination.

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An assistant principal who was demoted after she became pregnant will collect $350,000 from the Palm Beach County School District.

The woman’s suit claims she was given a lower-paid job at a West Palm Beach alternative school after she became pregnant with twins. While remaining an assistant principal, she was assigned to 34 fewer days during the year, which cut her pay about $15,000, according to district records. She said the move also came after she reported allegations that another employee was being sexually harassed.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the school district on the woman’s behalf. While the district has not admitted to any illegal conduct, it has agreed to settle the case “to avoid the burdens and risks of protracted litigation,” according to reports.

The school district will pay the woman $67,000 in back pay and $283,000 in damages. The school district also has agreed to not discriminate or retaliate on the basis of pregnancy and must submit anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies to the U.S. Department of Justice within 60 days.

The School Board is also expected to revise its existing non-discrimination policies, adding pregnancy as a protected class, along with race, religion, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of employment discrimination. An employer is not allowed to let an employee’s pregnancy or maternity leave negatively impact employment decisions. Some of those negative effects include passing over the employee for a promotion, denying medical benefits, or perhaps terminating employment entirely. On a similar note, it is illegal for employers to try to dissuade an employee from taking maternity leave by implying that she may be replaced during her absence.

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