Young v. United Parcel Service, in the Supreme Court, which has been built up as a cause celebre, turns on whether the courts should feel free to re-interpret a 1978 federal law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, so as to include evolving ideas of a right to accommodation akin to the ADA. The alternative position is that if such a right to accommodation is now thought to be a good idea, advocates should get Congress to enact it into law explicitly. [Lyle Denniston and related SCOTUSBlog, USA Today, Bloomberg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with auto-play, The Economist]
California: “A jury has awarded a local mother more than $185 million in damages in a pregnancy and gender discrimination case against her former employer AutoZone.” [KGTV, auto-plays]
More: Jon Hyman (damage to company’s reputation likely more serious than eventual actual payout).
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is used to getting its way since most employers would rather settle rather than face the expense and publicity risk of litigating against it. But sometimes, as I note in my new post at Cato, judges get a close look at just how weak the commission’s position is. And then…
More from Bob in comments: “Here’s the problem… major employers have made changes to their severance agreements to comport with the EEOC’s position in CVS. They EEOC has lost the case and still gotten the change they wanted. That’s all they care about. Much like the new Pregnancy Discrimination Act guidance which turns prior guidance and case law on its head. Major employers have already reacted in order to avoid costly litigation though the chances of a neutral court agreeing with the guidance are pretty low.”
Jon Hyman at Ohio Employment Law spots a potentially significant ruling, and has a followup.
P.S. The topic is also discussed on Thursday’s John Stossel show, with guests Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason and Steve Lonegan of Americans for Prosperity.
Some time ago, Baker & McKenzie got sued for sexual harassment. That case sent shockwaves throughout lawfirms nationwide.
A case out of New York last week (ABA Journal Online, 8/22) will not reverberate nearly that loudly but considering how some lawfirms are still perceived (fairly or unfairly) as not being “family-friendly”, the case should be of concern nonetheless.
A jury has awarded about $720,000 in damages to an associate and paralegal who claimed they were forced out of their New York law firm because of their pregnancies.
Garden City, N.Y., tax law firm Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy will only have to pay about $266,000 if the verdict is upheld because of a punitive damages cap, the firm’s lawyer told the New York Law Journal.
Obviously, there’s always more to the story than the headlines (and, it should be noted that the lawfirm strongly denied the allegations), but I can’t help but wonder how many other lawfirms are ripe for such lawsuits because of the perception of the firm. Given stereotypes of the hard-charging lawyer, it’s not that hard to then believe that a firm would discriminate against someone perceived to be not working as hard because of their pregnancy.