The U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over Indiana and several other regions, has reversed the ruling of a lower court that decided against a woman accusing a prominent law firm of employment discrimination.
The plaintiff worked as a marketing director for the firm for two years before taking pregnancy leave (in accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act). During her leave, her employers informed her that an organizational restructuring would cause her to lose her job. The woman claims to have been told by a company human resources director that she was fired for taking leave. She now alleges that the firm discriminated against other individuals for taking medical leave as well.
Discrimination suits of this kind are generally complex because these often concern both federal and state laws that sometimes may come into conflict with each other. And often time employees are retaliated against because they request pregnancy leave in which they are entitled to under federal law. One may need to obtain an attorney to make sense of the laws and these apply to your personal circumstances.
The woman filed a lawsuit against the firm, accusing it of pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and failing to provide her with a bonus under the FMLA. The judge granted summary judgment for the defendants, but the woman appealed this ruling and the case was brought to a higher court.
The 7th Circuit Court reversed this decision saying that the statements of the human resources director fell within the scope of the plaintiff’s employment and could thus be admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence. One judge explained that the statement of the director provided one potential reason for the firing. The potential reason for the firing was believable – though hardly excusable.
Source: Law.com, “7th Circuit revives bias case by former SmithAmundsen marketing director against firm,” Nov. 16, 2011