Pregnancy discrimination costs Kohl’s a $2.1 million verdict

An Akron woman who worked for 10 years as an assistant manager at seven Kohl’s department stores sued for pregnancy discrimination after she was repeatedly passed over for store manager positions.

Teresa Lehman, who had three children in four years, said her career plunged with each pregnancy announcement, despite the fact that managers told her she was among the top candidates for promotion in northeastern Ohio. In a two-month period, Lehman watched five store manager positions go to less-qualified men, women with no children or women who assured their bosses they didn’t plan to have children.

After one pregnancy, Lehman testified, a manager asked, “You’re not going to get pregnant again, are you?” He further asked, “Are you breastfeeding?” and “Did you get your tubes tied?” He added, “I thought you couldn’t have any more kids.”

The jury awarded $2.1 million for lost wages, pain and suffering. As further punishment, the jury threw
in Lehman’s attorney’s fees, which could heap another $840,000 onto Kohl’s tab. “I think she was very poorly treated because she was pregnant, because she wanted to have a family,” one juror said.

Can you afford a $2.1 million verdict? Make sure your front-line managers and supervisors understand that interrogating women about their family plans is discrimination.