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Pregnancy unnecessary for pregnancy bias suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A woman doesn’t have to be pregnant to sue for discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Wait, what?

Women who have recently given birth are also covered, at least for a few months.

That’s why it’s important to remind bosses never to take a past pregnancy into account when deciding who to hire or promote.

Recent case: Katherine worked for Thomas Pink, a retail store that’s part of the Louis Vuitton fashion chain in Manhattan. After returning from maternity leave, Katherine learned that a manager would soon be resigning. She let her own boss know she was interested in the job, which would be a promotion.

Usually, promotions were quick, with departing managers being replaced within weeks. Katherine was interviewed, but heard nothing for several months. Finally, she followed up. That’s when she received a second interview. But she later testified that the interviewer seemed uninterested, didn’t have her résumé and didn’t ask many questions.

Shortly after, she learned that a much older woman had been offered the job. Katherine sued, alleging pregnancy discrimination.

The company argued that Katherine hadn’t been pregnant for almost a year when it hired the older woman. Therefore, it said, she shouldn’t be able to sue under the PDA.

The court let her case go forward. It noted that when Kather­­ine first expressed interest in the opening, it had been less than four months since she gave birth. If she can show the delay in hiring was a sham to avoid the appearance of pregnancy discrimination, she may have a case.

The court also noted that since the woman who got the job was over childbearing age, Katherine could use that as evidence that the company was biased against those who can become pregnant. (Albin v. Louis Vuitton, et al., No. 13-CV-4356, SD NY, 2014)

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