Author Topic: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant  (Read 9179 times)

simonsez

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U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« on: April 23, 2014, 06:34:51 AM »
A friend of mine, who works as a dental assistant, has until the end of this week (4/25) to gather her things because her boss said it would be too hard raising a 3 year old and a newborn while working.  From what I have gathered, this has nothing to do with anything other than the pregnancy.  She is 5 weeks pregnant. 

She and her husband are upset and unsure of what to do, especially as she is still in the office this week.  She had planned on working right up until the pregnancy.  With the emotional distress and loss of wages, this seems like obvious pregnancy discrimination.

Thoughts on the best course of action (or lack thereof)?  Has anyone else experienced this?  What did you do?  Was it worth it and/or did you have any regret about that course of action?

Thanks in advance.


LibrarIan

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 06:50:50 AM »
What state did this occur in? That might help narrow the possible solution(s) down.

simonsez

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 06:52:45 AM »
Illinois

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2014, 06:53:44 AM »

ak907

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2014, 06:59:16 AM »
Just wanted to give you a bump so more knowledgeable members get a chance to see this. It certainly sounds like an EEOC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Employment_Opportunity_Commission violation.

Gin1984

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2014, 07:02:28 AM »
Well, depends on what she wants.  Does she want to be paid till the nine months are up and she becomes a SAHM, does she want her job back, does she want to be paid until she finds a comparable job?  EEOC is great but to get what is best for you, it may require a labor lawyer.

GoldenStache

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2014, 07:04:42 AM »
I smell something funny with this story, and it doesn't pass the smell test for me.

5 weeks pregnant and has already told her boss??  They recommend now that you do not even tell your family members until you are 2-3 months, recommend friends after 3 months. 

I doubt the dentist is that dumb to opening say he is firing her because it will be too hard to raise a family and work, very illegal in every state and equals an automatic Go Directly To GO And Collect $XXXXXXXX...    

I think she is getting fired for cause and feels bad about it so she made up the story.. 
Yes I know I sound like... A jerk, hard nosed and unsentimental... Thats me.. 

warfreak2

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 07:17:50 AM »
Yes I know I sound like... A jerk, hard nosed and unsentimental... Thats me..
Yes, you do. Also, if you think this kind of thing doesn't still happen (let alone it still being prevalent), you're kind of naive.

Daleth

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2014, 07:24:51 AM »
She needs to go straight to the EEOC and an employment-law lawyer. The lawyer needs to be in her state but not necessarily in her town. She should look for someone with experience suing for employment discrimination.

Most people don't tell employers until 12 weeks but a dental assistant might need to tell earlier in order to avoid being exposed to X-rays and other risks.

simonsez

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2014, 07:37:25 AM »
I smell something funny with this story, and it doesn't pass the smell test for me.

5 weeks pregnant and has already told her boss??  They recommend now that you do not even tell your family members until you are 2-3 months, recommend friends after 3 months. 

I doubt the dentist is that dumb to opening say he is firing her because it will be too hard to raise a family and work, very illegal in every state and equals an automatic Go Directly To GO And Collect $XXXXXXXX...    

I think she is getting fired for cause and feels bad about it so she made up the story.. 
Yes I know I sound like... A jerk, hard nosed and unsentimental... Thats me..
There is bias inherent in nearly every conversation humans have.  Did my friend paint herself as the victim?  Yes, of course, but that doesn't mean she is lying or exaggerating and I have no reason to doubt her.  She very well could be a victim!  If important details were left out to me, then so be it.  I posted this anonymously with no push from my friend, her husband, or my wife because I was curious about other's experiences.  Any responses on this thread posting relevant links, adding personal anecdotes, giving precautions, asking follow-up questions, etc. are seen as a bonus because there is nothing to lose (even if the story I was told and shared had details withheld).

Your comment does have value though.  It has given me advice on what NOT to say to her- "Just a note for next time--don't even tell your family members until you are 2-3 months along."

randymarsh

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2014, 07:43:31 AM »
Yes I know I sound like... A jerk, hard nosed and unsentimental... Thats me..
Yes, you do. Also, if you think this kind of thing doesn't still happen (let alone it still being prevalent), you're kind of naive.

Oh relax, we're all aware that pregnancy discrimination happens everyday. I just read an article the other day about Pier 1 forcing an employee to take maternity leave early and it ends before she even gives birth. Not sure what they were thinking.

I agree it seems odd to tell your employer at 5 weeks, but Daleth brings up the excellent point of x-rays.

Would definitely consult with a lawyer. Personally I'd rather receive damages than the job back. Wouldn't want to work at a place that thinks they can dictate if I choose to work and have children.

simonsez

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2014, 07:47:16 AM »
Would definitely consult with a lawyer. Personally I'd rather receive damages than the job back. Wouldn't want to work at a place that thinks they can dictate if I choose to work and have children.
Exactly, I think that's part of why they are unsure as to what to do.  I'm sure she feels awkward this week being there and would likely still if allowed to come back later.

Eurotexan

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2014, 09:57:05 AM »
I am a Risk Manager so I work on the other side i.e. defend my company from lawsuits. Since I don't know the specifics of the case I am talking generally about EEOC claims. More times than not the EEOC doesn't take the case but give the employee the right to sue. So, the employee then gets a lawyer who will get between 30% and 50% of the settlement. The better lawyers generally want less, just an FYI. The dentist should have EPL insurance but the deductible will probably be $25K or higher, could be as low as $10K but that would be unlikely. So, with that in mind any settlement and legal fees to defend this claim come straight out of the company's bottom line. They will want to settle this, legal fees alone could be $10K. If I had to put a value on this case, I would say she would get a settlement of about $15K as long as she doesn't drag it out too long (the more legal fees the company has to pay, the less they will want to offer in settlement).

In these litigious times the facts of the matter barely come into play since the legal fees are so high. Companies defending these cases look for the best financial settlement which often has no reflection on the merits of the case. Sad but true.. however, in this case it sounds like your friend has a case. Hope that helped!

GoldenStache

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2014, 12:53:39 PM »
I wrote up a rather large reply including a self-face-punch (I should have thought about the dangers in the working enviroment) but sadly it disappeared.

I did some research and the x-rays are not dangerous, the nitrous is dangerous.  So it would make sense to tell your boss as soon as you found out if you working enviroment is not considered safe.   

Depending on the state (everything always falls on the state) she might be able to get Short Term Disability (and get her job back after she gives birth), if her state does not offer that she could be better off getting unemployment benefits / legal matters.


StarryC

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2014, 12:58:26 PM »
1) She should not post about it on facebook/ online
2) She should call an "employee side" employment lawyer.  She can probably get a free consultation.  The lawyer would probably take it on a "contingency" basis with very little up front payment from her.
3) She should keep records and notes of witnesses to the statement, and any prior issues with the boss or her.
4) She should look for another job.  This shows that she really did want to continue working.  Also, the money from a case is a long ways off.  If she needs the job, she should find one. Hopefully before her pregnancy becomes visible enough that she can be discriminated against without anyone saying a word.

warfreak2

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2014, 01:05:32 PM »
The better lawyers generally want less, just an FYI.
...because they are better at determining which cases can be won, so they have a lower risk? That makes sense.

Damnit, probability theory, stop following me everywhere!

Peter

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2014, 01:52:54 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.

simonsez

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2014, 02:04:50 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
Thanks for your insights Peter!  I'll be sure to pass along.

Gin1984

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2014, 02:15:19 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
I really, really wish we had emocolons on here.  I really need a ROFL one right now.  You honestly believe that?  I've have been told, by a perspective boss that he was not sure if I could handle having a daughter and being a graduate student and I had to prove I could.  My last boss told me that I "should follow your (my) husband" especially now with us having a child when I was looking at staying on from a Master's to PhD at the university instead of staying and getting my PhD done faster.  We declined to take his advice.  People say things like this all the bloody time, but people don't have the money, the power or the freedom (meaning they need a decent rec for their next job) to fight it.

TrMama

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2014, 02:21:54 PM »
She should call a lawyer ASAP. Most will want a brief description of the facts over the phone and there's no charge for this.

She also needs to look for another job ASAP. Regardless of what happens with the previous employer, she's not going to want to work there anymore. I get the sense from your post that they need the money.

She should NOT tell any potential employers about the pregnancy. Tell her to wear "fat" clothes to any interviews. Maternity clothes scream "I am pregnant!" and she will not get hired.

I do not doubt her claim, however this is because I have personally experienced employers saying incredibly stupid things to their employees. Just because someone is able to hire someone else, doesn't mean they have any common sense at all. For example, the correct response when your female employee politely asks you not to look at porn in full view of all other employees in the office is not, "Don't be so uptight".

warfreak2

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2014, 02:25:08 PM »
But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
You seem to think that it's extraordinarily rare for a prejudiced person to be stupid, or unaware of the law. Have you met many people?

Thanks for your insights Peter!  I'll be sure to pass along.
:-D

MissStache

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2014, 02:26:36 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
I really, really wish we had emocolons on here.  I really need a ROFL one right now.  You honestly believe that?  I've have been told, by a perspective boss that he was not sure if I could handle having a daughter and being a graduate student and I had to prove I could.  My last boss told me that I "should follow your (my) husband" especially now with us having a child when I was looking at staying on from a Master's to PhD at the university instead of staying and getting my PhD done faster.  We declined to take his advice.  People say things like this all the bloody time, but people don't have the money, the power or the freedom (meaning they need a decent rec for their next job) to fight it.

It also may be a small practice with someone who isn't familiar with the HR no-nos.  I work in corporate HR and we beat our management over the head with training and guidelines and what stupid crap not to say to your associates, and they still act like morons.  An idiot would certainly say something like this. 

Gin1984

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2014, 03:04:25 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
I really, really wish we had emocolons on here.  I really need a ROFL one right now.  You honestly believe that?  I've have been told, by a perspective boss that he was not sure if I could handle having a daughter and being a graduate student and I had to prove I could.  My last boss told me that I "should follow your (my) husband" especially now with us having a child when I was looking at staying on from a Master's to PhD at the university instead of staying and getting my PhD done faster.  We declined to take his advice.  People say things like this all the bloody time, but people don't have the money, the power or the freedom (meaning they need a decent rec for their next job) to fight it.

It also may be a small practice with someone who isn't familiar with the HR no-nos.  I work in corporate HR and we beat our management over the head with training and guidelines and what stupid crap not to say to your associates, and they still act like morons.  An idiot would certainly say something like this.

I believe these anecdotes. I wouldn't have, until I had a married coworker share, apropos of nothing:

1. That he was into spanking.
2. That he would very much like to share this interest with me.

I have a new job now!
Ok now I really need the emocolon.   I literally have teared up from laughing at this image.  How did you respond?  I would have laughed.  I don't think I would have been able to help myself.

madgeylou

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2014, 03:11:28 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
I really, really wish we had emocolons on here.  I really need a ROFL one right now.  You honestly believe that?  I've have been told, by a perspective boss that he was not sure if I could handle having a daughter and being a graduate student and I had to prove I could.  My last boss told me that I "should follow your (my) husband" especially now with us having a child when I was looking at staying on from a Master's to PhD at the university instead of staying and getting my PhD done faster.  We declined to take his advice.  People say things like this all the bloody time, but people don't have the money, the power or the freedom (meaning they need a decent rec for their next job) to fight it.

It also may be a small practice with someone who isn't familiar with the HR no-nos.  I work in corporate HR and we beat our management over the head with training and guidelines and what stupid crap not to say to your associates, and they still act like morons.  An idiot would certainly say something like this.

I believe these anecdotes. I wouldn't have, until I had a married coworker share, apropos of nothing:

1. That he was into spanking.
2. That he would very much like to share this interest with me.

I have a new job now!

LOL!! I had a co-worker like this, too. Sometimes I'd come in first thing in the morning and be treated to some lovely pornographic pictures of ladies with dude parts in my email. When he was finally laid off, his classic quote was "OK, but I'm gonna need at least half a day to get all the porn off this computer."

This was years ago, and everyone in the office still jokes about it. Like "Are you gonna get that release out to QA today?" "Well, yeah, but I'm gonna need at least half a day to get the porn off of it."

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2014, 07:00:40 PM »
I wonder if it's possible that your friend is incompetent or a bad fit for the office or something, and they chose a reeeally stupid way to try to let her go without hurting her feelings. But yeah, she should talk to a lawyer.

thepokercab

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2014, 07:38:19 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.

As a man, I can definitively say that I've never had any employer tell me that they were letting me go because they thought my newborn child was going to negatively affect my work/life balance.  Therefore the logical conclusion is that i doubt it happens anywhere else.   

MicroRN

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2014, 09:03:12 PM »
Considering that a friend of mine was fired because she got married, and her boss decided that meant she was going to get pregnant and leave, I can believe this.  He told her flat out why, and even said that he only hired single women to work in his office because he wanted them to be focused on their work.  Apparently he looked for wedding/engagement rings at the interview.  Corporate type environments tend to put supervisors through training to prevent issues like this, but a lot of small business owners have no idea what's allowable and what isn't.  My friend lawyered up, boss decided to cancel the firing when he realized what it would cost him, but she found another job pretty quickly.   

Emilyngh

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2014, 09:20:17 PM »
I think GoldenStache's points are valid. The main one being that the employer would never openly tell someone they are being fired because they think having another baby would be too hard on her work-life balance. That portion of the story screams pure fantasy on the pregnant woman's part. Not to say that it didn't happen because she was pregnant, I can believe it. But the part about her being told explicity why is too much, and brings the entire testimony into question, imo.
I really, really wish we had emocolons on here.  I really need a ROFL one right now.  You honestly believe that?  I've have been told, by a perspective boss that he was not sure if I could handle having a daughter and being a graduate student and I had to prove I could.  My last boss told me that I "should follow your (my) husband" especially now with us having a child when I was looking at staying on from a Master's to PhD at the university instead of staying and getting my PhD done faster.  We declined to take his advice.  People say things like this all the bloody time, but people don't have the money, the power or the freedom (meaning they need a decent rec for their next job) to fight it.

This.   I was asked in a job interview if I had kids and when I tried to change the subject was told that the job required too much dedication for someone with kids (read: a woman with kids).   I think that employers can rationalize that they are just trying to be nice (eg.,along the lines of "for your own good, I suggest you take it easy with all you are going to have going on"), vs discrimination and thus really think they're not doing anything wrong.   And I think many men would be amazed at the stupid shit employers and prospective employers say to women who are pregnant or with kids.   
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 09:23:16 PM by Emilyngh »

Rube

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2014, 09:42:02 PM »
I happen to be close to someone who worked as an attorney at a plaintiff side employment firm right after law school. The one thing that always seemed to be true about every potential client is that there was ALWAYS more to the story than was revealed during the initial consultation.

My Bogus Detector is definitely on alert here but I've heard of stranger cases going to trial or settling and some award being given.


NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2014, 08:10:33 AM »
As a man, I can definitively say that I've never had any employer tell me that they were letting me go because they thought my newborn child was going to negatively affect my work/life balance.  Therefore the logical conclusion is that i doubt it happens anywhere else.

Perfect! Well said!

I have no idea if the original story is true or not, but to suggest that it isn't without any facts is naive at best and victim-blaming at worst. If you think employers know better than to admit something like that, you're wrong. Some don't know any better, and others believe they can say whatever they want without consequences because, for the most part, they can. But instead of offering my own stories, read this:
http://usa.everydaysexism.com/

See if you can read 5 pages of that and still think that stories of sexism and workplace discrimination are made up.

jba302

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Re: U.S. Legal Advice: Fired for Being Pregnant
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2014, 02:35:15 PM »
The absolute first step is to contact the EEOC directly and immediately -http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/fed_employees/filing_complaint.cfm

And file a formal complaint. Until your claim is denied or you are getting to the stage of actual court there's literally 0 value in hiring an attorney. The EEOC has staff that investigates these complaints, sets a determination, and even can help with settlements. Always call the EEOC first.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 02:39:22 PM by jba302 »