8-Year Legal Battle Yields Millions for Women Who Were Fired Over Pregnancies
Boss attempted to discourage women from having babies
Even though women have been in the workforce for decades, there are still some employers who believe that dealing with pregnant employees is too much of a hassle. Often, the women are fired or driven off the job.
However, it’s important to know that the law provides specific protection from pregnancy discrimination.
Recently, three New York workers prevailed over the employer who fired them because of their pregnancies. Even though this legal battle took years to resolve, the women stayed the course and were ultimately able to achieve justice.
No pregnancies allowed
Marlena Santana, Yasminda Davis and Melissa Rodriguez were all fired from their administrative staff positions at GEB Medical Management several years ago.
The women claim that it was no coincidence that each was let go after the boss found out she was expecting.
Their boss, Bruce Paswall, was allegedly very vocal about his anti-pregnancy stance. The women claim that when Paswall interviewed new job candidates, he questioned them about their plans to have children. If they indicated that they might be interested in having a child, Paswall attempted to dissuade them.
So when Davis began having pregnancy symptoms, she became nervous about her job security. It turns out her suspicions were justified. One day after returning to work from an obstetrician appointment, Davis found that her desk had been cleared and her work had been reassigned. Paswell told her to resign, stating that her performance was substandard. She refused.
A few days after her pregnancy was confirmed, Davis was fired.
Meanwhile, Santana was already dealing with the repercussions of her own pregnancy. Paswell had allegedly stopped speaking to her after she’d disclosed her condition months before. On top of that, her work area was relocated to a dusty storage area and her hours were cut.
Santana was fired one day after Davis.
Rodriguez was the next staffer to announce her pregnancy, just two months after Santana and Davis were terminated. Paswell was not pleased. Rodriguez states that after she shared her news, Paswell began ignoring her and her workload greatly increased.
The office manager ordered Rodriguez to get an ultrasound and to have the results sent directly to him so he could confirm her due date. He accused her of wearing a girdle to hide her pregnancy and alleged that she was further along than she’d disclosed.
Several weeks later, Rodriguez was terminated.
The three women sued.
The company repeatedly attempted to have the case thrown out. However, it was unsuccessful.
Eight years later, the case finally went to trial. In court, the women’s employer argued that they had been terminated due to poor performance.
However, 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.)
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If you believe that your rights have been compromised because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.