What if you work at home, become pregnant, tell your employer, and he says
fine, no problem, just keep doing your job. Then suddenly you are told
that you your job is changing, and you have to work in the office now.
Same job, different location. Is that pregnancy discrimination?
Nicole Mete thinks so. She worked for Sears as a recruiter starting in
February 2010. After she announced she was pregnant, her job conditions
were modified so she could no longer work from home most days. In a
complaint filed this week, she alleges that Sears violated Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, by suddenly requiring
her to work from the office four days a week, despite the fact that she
had consistently worked from home since her hire. The financial impact
of the change forced Mete to resign, according to the suit.
Mete was responsible for recruiting field management for Kmart stores in
a region encompassing several states. Although she was based in Illinois,
she could perform virtually every function of her job from home, according
to the complaint. Throughout her tenure, she was allowed to work from
home more often and eventually was told she only had to come into the
office for face-to-face meetings once or twice a week, the suit says.
All of Sears' recruiters in similar positions worked primarily from
home, whether they were based near the company's headquarters in Hoffman
Estates, Illinois, or out of state, according to the complaint.
But the terms and conditions of Mete's employment changed just after
she announced her pregnancy and need for FMLA leave, the suit says. Her
supervisors told her that when she returned from maternity leave, she
would be required to work in the office four days a week, according to
The complaint states that "In addition to how it treated Plaintiff,
Defendant's negative view of women who have children and take maternity
leave was also evidenced by negative comments from upper management. For
example, in reference to an employee who was pregnant at the same time
as Plaintiff, Sherry Nolan-Shultz ("Nolan-Shultz"), Jemo's
boss and one of Plaintiff's superiors, encouraged another employee
to learn the pregnant employee's job, even though the pregnant employee
planned to return to work. When this was pointed out to Nolan-Shultz she
responded, "Oh, they never come back," in reference to female
employees who take maternity leaves. Nolan-Shultz's comment is further
evidence of Defendant's animus against pregnant employees."
Mete went on maternity leave in March 2013. Despite voicing her concerns
about the new schedule to her supervisors, Sears refused to allow her
to return to the same schedule, according to the complaint. Mete says
she was forced to resign in May 2013 because of the financial impact of
If you are employed in New York and you have been discriminated against
by your employer due to your pregnancy, call the attorneys at Schwartz
and Perry LLP to enforce your rights.
Mete claims Sears engaged in gender discrimination under Title VII and
unlawful conduct and retaliation under the FMLA. The FMLA makes it unlawful
for any employer to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against
any individual for opposing any practice it makes unlawful. Similarly,
the FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to discharge or discriminate
against anyone for taking part in proceedings or inquiries under the FMLA.
Mete is seeking an award of all compensation and benefits lost, along
with other damages, attorneys' fees and court costs.