As a Seattle wrongful termination lawyer, I believe that protecting the rights of employees at all companies is the most important, and rewarding, part of my job. From a press release issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Friday, a woman who worked at a medical staffing company in Milwaukee was harassed at work, and ultimately terminated, because of her pregnancy. The EEOC won a judgment against HCS Medical Staffing on behalf of former company bookkeeper Roxy Leger for violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The judge found that Charles Sisson, the owner of HCS, referred to Ms. Leger’s pregnancy as a joke, and made a number of insulting and offensive comments about it. While Ms. Leger was in the hospital recovering from a Cesarean section, she received a certified letter notifying her that she had been terminated.
Obviously, there are several aspects of this case that are extremely unsettling. The idea that an employer would harass an employee about being pregnant is most certainly one of them. Employees are guaranteed the right to keep their personal lives personal, free from comment and degrading insult at work, and particularly from their bosses, even if that includes pregnancy or a medical condition that people at work can see. What I find most unsettling is the way Ms. Leger was fired. While Washington State is an “at-will” employment state, meaning that employers and employees may terminate employment at will, with no notice and no reason, it is still unlawful to terminate an employee in violation of Title VII. Of course, this case was in Wisconsin, where employment law is not the same as Washington, but even in Washington, when it is abundantly clear, as in this case, that an employee was terminated because of a pregnancy and childbirth, there is a valid claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
I am pleased to see the laws protecting the rights of employees at work, and am always happy to see someone step up and assert their rights. Too often, employees feel intimidated by their employers in these kinds of situation, and believe that they have no recourse. If you are being harassed at work, you should know that one of your rights is the right to seek legal help without retaliation. If you have been terminated from your employment, and you believe that the reason involved your gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or health or medical condition, you may be able to seek legal recourse. Contact a Seattle wrongful termination lawyer immediately to discuss your rights and your options. For more information and a FREE CONSULTATION call me at Premier Law Group at (206)285-1743.