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A New Jersey Employee, Fired 17 Days After Returning from Maternity Leave, Receives a $500K Settlement in Her Discrimination Case

The situation of pregnant women or new mothers suffering discrimination at work as a result of their pregnancies is, unfortunately, an all-too-common scenario, both inside and outside New Jersey. An employer decides that an employee’s pregnancy has rendered her insufficiently productive when it comes to growing the employer’s bottom line, and so it seeks out an excuse to fire her.

Fortunately, both federal and New Jersey laws prohibit employers from taking adverse employment actions against pregnant (or new mother) employees because of their pregnancies or conditions related to their pregnancies. This can include a wide array of things, and the possibility of discrimination doesn’t end with the birth of the baby. An employer can be liable for pregnancy discrimination if it engages in illegal discrimination against an employee based upon her status as a breastfeeding mother, as an example. If you think you’ve been harmed in this kind of way at your job, fight back by reaching out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about your case.

Once you’ve decided to pursue your pregnancy discrimination case, the timing of events, and proof of that timing, can go a long way toward making your case and entitling you to a positive outcome. The case of a woman named K.J., reported by Business Insider, was an example. K.J. had started in the Monroe Township office of her employer, an insurer, in 2006 as a field service coordinator. In 2008, the employer promoted her to an operations manager position. In 2012, K.J. was promoted again, rising to become Regional Executive Director, according to the report.

In 2014, though, things allegedly deteriorated. According to the employee, it started when she overheard her supervisor and a Senior Vice President complain about the number of employees who had recently obtained or requested FMLA leave, opining that the leave and leave requests were “hurting the company.” That was in early February. Later that month, K.J. became pregnant. K.J. allegedly notified her boss about the pregnancy in May and, in response, was on the receiving end of a series of questions about, among other things, how much leave time K.J. intended to take. The employee eventually took a little more than two months of leave from November to January.

K.J. returned to work on January 12. The insurer terminated her on January 29, asserting that the director had violated company policy, according to the Business Insider report.

In a pregnancy discrimination case, you need proof of several things. You need evidence that shows, among other things, that you were a member of a protected class, that you suffered an adverse employment action, and that your employer was motivated by discrimination intent when it took the adverse action.

K.J. alleged that she was a recently pregnant woman, who was fired because of her pregnancy and the leave she took as a result of that condition. When you are amassing and presenting this proof, evidence of timing can be very important toward proving discriminatory intent. In this case, K.J. alleged that she returned from her pregnancy leave on January 12 and that the employer waited a mere 17 days before firing her. That kind of temporal proximity can be very effective proof in your case.

Ultimately, K.J. was able to use the proof she’d amassed to work out a beneficial settlement, agreeing to end her case in exchange for a $500,000 settlement payment, according to Business Insider.

You should not have to choose between starting (or growing) your family and keeping your job. If you have been on the receiving end of this kind of pregnancy-related discrimination, contact the skilled New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out what we can do to help you.

More blog posts:

How a Woman’s Snapchat Video and Text Messages Helped Her New Jersey Pregnancy Discrimination Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 5, 2019

I’m Pregnant and My New Jersey Employer Is Demanding I Start Taking Leave, Even Though I Want to Keep Working. What Can I Do?, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, May 29, 2018

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