Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits: a Sticky Situation for Employers

Posted by John Cofini on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 @ 11:21 AM

Pregnancy-Discrimination-LawsuitsLast week, a rather shocking story hit the news.

The gist? Jeffrey Wilpon, co-owner and COO of the Mets, subjected Leigh Castergine, senior vice president of ticket sales and service, to ongoing discrimination for being pregnant out of wedlock – culminating in her termination. (You can read the story here.)

Clearly, this type of behavior is unacceptable from any employer. But Castergine isn’t the only woman in the news to have been fired recently for being pregnant. According to the Charlotte Observer, new hire Morgan McCloskey lost her job at Massage Envy for the same reason.

And in a story by the LA Times last spring, Pier 1 sales associate Kimberly Erin Caselman was forced onto unpaid maternity leave well before her baby was due. After being compelled to use up all her leave while pregnant, if she chooses to take time off after her child is born, she’ll be putting her job at stake.

Pregnancy discrimination is real

Which is why there are laws in place to protect employees. That’s only fair.

That said, while we certainly hope these laws would simply articulate what is (or should be) common sense already – things that every employer would do out of their own basic decency – things are seldom simple in the world of liability.

It’s possible for laws to be less than obvious. It’s possible for an employer to make a legal mistake despite decent intentions. And it’s possible for an employee to misconstrue the reasons behind an employer’s actions.

Mistakes like those are costly... which is why it pays to take a lesson from the news.

Be aware of anti-discrimination laws

Takeaway number one? Educate yourself.

Don’t wait to research the laws governing your practices until you’re facing a lawsuit. It pays to understand the lay of the legal landscape well before issues arise. Speaking of which, here are five best practices for how to interact with a pregnant employee without getting sued.

As for takeaway number two? Get your hands on an employment practices liability insurance policy if you don’t already have one.

EPLI – insurance you don’t want to go without

EPLI stands for Employment Practices Liability Insurance, and it can help protect you from all kinds of legal claims such as wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, discrimination, sexual harassment and the invasion of employee privacy.

Good business is about taking smart risks – not careless ones. Find out how BNC Insurance and Risk Advisors can help with smarter business, workers’ compensation and employment practices liability insurance.


Tags: epli, pregnancy discrimination lawsuits, pregnancy discrimination, employment practices liability insurance