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No other complaints about pregnancy bias? That can make charges easier to defend

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, it’s relatively easy to get a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit dismissed. If your workplace records can show that other employees became pregnant, took leave and never complained about any sort of pregnancy-related discrimination, that can serve as a powerful rebuttal to a lone complaint.

Recent case: Lindy was a probationary teacher who twice became pregnant during the run-up to her tenure date. She worked with troubled students, and told her supervisor that she couldn’t perform a so-called “wrap” restraint on unruly students when she was pregnant.

Later, after she was turned down for tenure for poor performance, she sued. She alleged that the real reason was her pregnancy history and the restriction on restraining students. She said that was pregnancy discrimination.

But the school district pointed out her poor performance—which had been carefully documented and never mentioned her inability to restrain students—was the primary reason she didn’t receive tenure. The district also showed that during the relevant time frame, more than 20 teachers in similar positions became pregnant, gave birth, took leave and returned, all without filing a single pregnancy discrimination complaint.

The court considered that evidence plus Lindy’s performance history and tossed out her lawsuit. (Powers v. Lyons Central School District, No. 6-11-CV-06319, WD NY, 2015)

Final note: Courts like to see how employers treat other similarly situated employees. Be prepared to show them.

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