- Cassone Leasing, a Long Island-based company that rents and sells office trailers and storage containers, will pay $85,000 to settle a claim it fired an employee shortly after learning she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said April 5.
- The employee was hired in April 2018, when she was approximately 12 weeks pregnant. Her pregnancy was not visible at the time and she did not disclose it to the employer, according to the complaint. In a 30-day performance review, it rated her work one point shy of "excellent." However, the company fired her four days later, one week after a pregnancy-related absence and less than a week after she'd disclosed the pregnancy to HR. She was replaced the following day by a nonpregnant employee, EEOC said.
- In addition to the monetary settlement, Cassone will provide antidiscrimination and harassment training, introduce a more robust complaint and investigation procedure, and report complaints of sex discrimination, including pregnancy and harassment, to the EEOC.
Pregnant workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was amended in 1978 by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to include discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. This applies to every aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training and fringe benefits.
While illegal, firings based on pregnancy — often in anticipation of an employee's need for and entitlement to time off following childbirth or future caregiving responsibilities — is still common. Workers are also protected prior to beginning their employment; in one 2016 case, a Florida-based company allegedly rescinded a woman's job offer after learning she was pregnant, noting in an email that it "had a very urgent need to have somebody in the position long term …We appreciate you telling us beforehand."
Pregnant workers also are sometimes protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a recent case, an employer hired a pregnant employee, but allegedly rescinded her offer after she received a diagnosis of preeclampsia and informed the company she would require a delayed start date. While the ADA does not consider pregnancy a disability, pregnancy-related conditions can qualify as such, and thus require employers to provide reasonable accommodations.