Pregnant Employee Gets Punitive Damages 10-17-02
- By Rita Risser
A new case awards punitive damages to a pregnant woman who was not hired, and a new law in California gives pay to employees who take family leave.
The case involved a woman who applied for a job when she was 6 months pregnant. She was interviewed by the area sales manager, and told she was hired. The manager then said the applicant should meet the general manager before starting to work. The sales manager returned a few moments later and said the company couldn't hire her because under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the applicant was not eligible for family leave.
It is true that employees are not entitled to take family leave until they have been employed for at least 1200 hours. However, the applicant had never said she wanted to take family leave - in fact, she said she wanted to return to work immediately after she had her baby.
The court of appeals said that assuming an employee would want to take family leave is an illegal stereotype, and upheld the jury verdict for back pay, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
Wagner v. Dillard Dept. Stores, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 19278, ___F.3d___ (4th Cir., 2001)
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