Earlier this week on our San Diego employment law blog, we mentioned that employers in California cannot discriminate against employees based on their medical conditions or for using medical leave during a time of illness or to care for an ill family member. An employer must allow an employee to take time off of work for medical purposes if necessary, as long as the employee does not violate any medical leave rights.
Employers may understand that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or to fire an employee because of his or her medical condition or disability, but sometimes there are instances in which employers attempt to use other excuses to get rid employees because of their health. A woman recently filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, accusing her employer of doing just that.
The woman claims that her employer discriminated against her because she was pregnant. A month before her baby was due, she was fired.
The woman, who is now 37, worked at a resort and casino in Las Vegas between November 2010 and August 2011. Her duties included answering phones at the resort and assisting hotel guests with their room service needs. But when the woman informed her employer that she was pregnant, and when her pregnancy was visible, she claims that she began to experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of her pregnancy.
On one occasion, the woman's supervisor said to another employee while pointing at the pregnant woman, "That is what happens when you have sex." The lawsuit also claims that the supervisor made other inappropriate comments about her pregnancy and that he also gave her "dirty looks or shook his head disapprovingly."
When the woman was eight months pregnant, she was fired. Her employer claims that she was fired because she said "bye, bye" to a customer on the phone. The casino and resort claims that employees are trained to say "goodbye" on the phone. The woman's former employer has not responded to the lawsuit.
Source: ABC News, "Fired Las Vegas Hotal Worker Sues for Pregnancy Discrimination, Wages," Susanna Kim, May 17, 2012