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Home Improvement Company Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination

Emanuel Shirazi

The CEO of Carl’s Fencing, Decking and Home Improvements and his wife are being sued by a former employee for pregnancy discrimination. Ashley Meyer, the plaintiff, claims that she was harassed by Carl and Donna DelPizzo, the defendants, when she informed them of her pregnancy. She said she was then fired after she took time off after her premature son was released from the hospital.

Meyer was hired by the DelPizzos in January 2014 as the Marketing Coordinator. According to the complaint, Meyer was asked if she had children during her interview. Under New Jersey state labor law it is against the law for a prospective employer to ask this.

When Meyer became pregnant a few months after being hired, she said her $57,000 was cut in half. In addition to the pay cut, she began experiencing harassment in the workplace. The harassment included making comments about her hair and makeup, being rude and abrasive, and saying she had a “baby brain” when she made mistakes at work.

When Meyer returned to work after the birth of her son, she was demoted from Marketing Coordinator to a part-time administrative sales assistant who primarily answered phones. When Meyer found out her premature son was being released from the hospital, she told the DelPizzos she would be taking six weeks of leave to be with her baby. Though Meyer is protected under the Family Leave Act (and she gave the DelPizzos 30 days notice,) they tried to convince her to continue working for the company part time. When she refused, they refused to tell Meyer whether or not she would have a job when she returned from her leave. Meyer was let go in March 2015.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act “FMLA”, parents have 12 months from the birth of their baby to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  In addition, a company with 50 or more employees cannot fire an employee for taking unpaid leave to care for a family member or baby.

How prevalent do you think pregnancy discrimination is in the workplace?

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