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Bloomberg beats EEOC in pregnancy-discrimination class action

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in Human Resources,Maternity Leave Laws

The media empire Bloomberg L.P. has won a huge victory in a case championed by the EEOC. The agency had claimed that Bloomberg discriminated companywide against women who became pregnant and returned to work.

Recent case: The EEOC became involved in the case when several women complained that they lost pay and prestige after returning to work following maternity leave. They gave the EEOC specific examples of what they claimed were discrimination, including tales of male supervisors making offensive comments about the value of mothers as employees.

The EEOC then decided to pursue a class-action case, seeking to represent all Bloomberg employees who had been pregnant, gave birth and returned to work following maternity leave.

Bloomberg objected to the expansion and hired an expert to analyze its employment practices. That expert explained to the court that when he compared all women who were po­­ten­tially part of the class with another set of employees who also took leave for reasons other than pregnancy and birth, he discovered that the returning mothers actually got bigger raises and made more money than other leave-takers.

The EEOC had nothing to counter the statistics other than individual, anecdotal episodes of alleged sex dis­­crimination. The court dismissed the class action. (EEOC v. Bloomberg, L.P., et al., No. 07-CV-8383, SD NY, 2011)

Final note: It takes more than a few individual examples to prove that an employer discriminates against all pregnant employees.

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