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Pregnancy discrimination verdict involving Lucasfilm is tossed

Although there are laws in place in the U.S. to protect against discrimination in the workplace, the practice continues. And as we mentioned earlier this week on our San Diego employment law blog, even when someone believes that they have been discriminated against in the workplace, it can still be difficult to prove that an employer has violated any employment laws.

When one’s rights have been violated in the workplace, the employee has the option of taking legal action. But employment laws are complex, especially when it comes to proving discrimination. For this reason, employees who have had their rights violated by a supervisor or employer may want to consider consulting an attorney before they move forward with a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit in California.

If one’s case is especially complex, the legal process could be lengthy, and an employee will need someone on his or her side every step of the way and possibly even after an employee has supposedly won his or her case, as a pregnancy discrimination case against Lucasfilm Ltd. recently pointed out.

According to a lawsuit filed against Lucasfilm, a woman was hired as an assistant to the manager of George Lucas’ estate in 2008. She claims she was terminated before she even started her job, after she had informed her supervisor she was pregnant. A jury agreed that the woman was discriminated against because of her pregnancy. She was awarded damages of nearly $114,000 and almost $1.2 million in attorney’s fees.

Although the woman won in court, the employer appealed the decision. While appealing the case in court, Lucasfilm’s attorneys argued that the trial judge had made six major errors in instructing the California jury. The three-judge appellate panel agreed that several errors were made, and as a result, the trial was not fair. This ruling means that the original discrimination verdict has been tossed and the woman will not recover damages that had initially been awarded to her.

The woman has 15 days from the ruling to request the judges reconsider their decision or 40 days from the ruling to petition the Supreme Court to review her case. If these options are not pursued, the woman’s case will go before another jury for a retrial.

Source: Contra Costa Times, “Marin: Lucasfilm wins appeal of pregnancy discrimination suit; $1.2 million in fees vacated,” Gary Klien, Dec. 11, 2012

  • Our firm handles a variety of complex employment law and job rights issues, including complaints similar to the one discussed in today’s blog post. To learn more about employees’ rights, please visit our San Diego employment discrimination attorneys page.


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