Friday, November 6, 2009

Court Refuses To Dismiss Claim of Pregnancy Discrimination

In Armstrong v. Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., No.: 09-1321 (E.D. Pa. 10/21/2009), Senior Judge Louis H. Pollak, denied Defendant, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc.'s motion to dismiss Plaintiff's allegations of pregnancy discrimination.

Plaintiff, a thirty-seven year old female, sued her employer, alleging that while she was pregnant, a manager at her workplace told plaintiff that if she lost her baby due to heavy lifting, she could "spread her legs and pop out another one," and also told Plaintiff that if she became pregnant again, he would punch her in the stomach. Plaintiff also claimed that she was denied a pay-raise that was given to non-pregnant employees.

Plaintiff went on maternity leave from October 2007 to January, 2007, but was terminated from her employment on February 1, 2008, for an alleged violation of workplace rules. Plaintiff contended that the stated reasons for her termination were pretextual, as certain male employees had committed similar violations in the past, but had suffered no adverse consequences.

The District Court refused to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, holding that the above allegations were sufficient to allow Plaintiff's case to proceed through discovery. The Court also refused to dismiss Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages, holding that on these facts a jury "might infer the requisite nefarious attitude from defendant's action in discharging plaintiff right after her maternity leave."