Three medical assistants who fought a pregnancy discrimination case for eight years have come away with a $6.2 million verdict against their former employer, a medical services company. According to the lawsuit, the three women worked as administrative employees and were good employees. However, after they were pregnant, or suspected of being pregnant, they were harassed at their jobs, falsely accused of poor performance, and fired. The lawsuit followed. Scott Lucas, one of the lawyers for the three women, discusses the lawsuit in this report.
Lucas says that the evidence in support of the plaintiffs in the case “was overwhelming.” Inappropriate questions were asked during the initial job interviews. After the women were hired, improper comments continued. One key bit of evidence, Lucas says, came when a supervisor told one woman that the other two had been fired for being pregnant. “The evidence was so clear and convincing, the jury had very little trouble seeing what was going on.”
Lucas says that the overall work environment was not significantly different from what one would find at other companies of comparable size. “The difference is that pregnant women were not welcome in the work force.” The first two women were fired within twenty-four hours of each other. Lucas notes that two of the women were obviously pregnant. The third woman told a supervisor that she might be pregnant. She was fired two days after she told her supervisor that she definitely was pregnant. The conduct of the company ran afoul of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
There had been some previous indications that the company had a bias against pregnant women. The wife of the office manager had once been an employee. When she announced her pregnancy at work, the owner of the company asked, “Are you going to keep it?”
Lucas suggests that the lesson for other employers from the verdict in this case is that people from modest backgrounds are as important as people who make big salaries. Lucas believes that, had the plaintiffs been women who were Wall Street bankers, the matter would have been resolved immediately, and there would not have been eight years of litigation. Lucas says that “this case was never taken seriously by the other side.” When the case was first on for trial, the settlement offer for the entire matter was $15,000. The verdict was much larger than the offer. The message, says Lucas: “Treat people the way you’d want to be treated.”
Lawyers will be interested to learn that this case came to Scott Lucas and Steven Stack through the Lawyer Referral Service of the New York City bar.
Scott A. Lucas is the principal in the Law Offices of Scott A. Lucas, New York City. He has more than a decade of experience resolving a variety of employment-related matters, as well as in real estate, corporate law, and numerous other areas. Notably, every case and client is personally overseen by Mr. Lucas. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.