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Check all records before answering EEOC charges

by on
in Human Resources,Maternity Leave Laws

Nothing will make you look worse in front of a jury than conflicting testimony about when you knew what.

Inconsistent stories and explanations look like lies to the everyday people who sit on juries. That’s one reason it’s crucial to double-check all your records and get the facts straight before you respond to EEOC, state or local anti-discrimination agency charges.

Pull out any written documentation involving the employee, including phone message slips, handwritten notes and e-mails. Then create a timeline so you can explain the details to the agency.

In the following case, the court ordered a trial mainly because the manager gave the court conflicting dates for when she first learned her subordinate was pregnant.

Recent case:
Kathleen Williams worked as an elementary school teacher until the Chicago schools declined to renew her contract because of allegedly poor parent communications skills. Williams suspected she had been terminated because she had recently told her principal she was pregnant. A less qualified teacher who was not pregnant replaced her.

Williams sued under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The principal claimed she had recommended that Williams’ contract not be renewed before she learned of the pregnancy. She gave the EEOC a notice date of April 20. But Williams had a March 20 e-mail that clearly showed the principal knew earlier because the e-mail referenced a prenatal visit. Williams told the court she had told her supervisor she was pregnant in February.

The court sent the case to trial, reasoning that the principal’s inconsistent statements could be seen as lying. It said a jury should decide whether Williams or the principal’s word was more reliable. (Williams v. Board of Education of Chicago, No. 07-C-6997, ND IL, 2009)

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