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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 116810
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I have been working for a high end, nationally recognized restaurant

Customer Question

I have been working for a high end, nationally recognized restaurant for 10 years. Our 'season' is 12/31 and usually begins again in April. I have held a management position as well as working as sommelier and waiter at night. 1/1/10 they said they no longer need me to manage. They eluded that job performance was beginning to be an issue - but I have never been written up in my 10 years of service. I haven't even ever taken a sick day! Main reason given was that my horse stable was a distraction (second business) My belief is that they are doing this because I am pregnant. Is this legal?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
You have a good claim of at least a circumstantial case that you are being discriminated against based upon your pregnancy. Your case gets even better if the excuse they are using, the horse stable/second business, has been in existence for at least the previous years when you have been called back to work, since this would show that it was not a problem in past years and thus it is likely a pretense for discrimination based upon your pregnancy. To file such a complaint, which you should do, you need to make your complaint to the state commission on human/civil rights and the EEOC, since they need to investigate before you go to court. If you can show that your second business has never been questioned prior to your pregnancy and you can show that there have been no real performance issues, then you have a strong claim to show that this excuse is just the employer's pretext for discrimination and the EEOC would grant a right to sue letter for you to go to court after the employer.


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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
This EEOC letter to sue...what would this do? I'm assuming the right to sue, but what would I be suing for? I don't think I would have the funds to do something like this. Could you give me some details about this please? On another note, the stable has been here for three years as a business...and I have had horses since 2004. It is pretty much self sufficient and there is also no documentation they could show that it has been a problem. The only thing that has changed is for the last two years they have allowed me some Sundays off during the summer to go showing.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
You would be suing for discrimination based upon pregnancy (which is a form of sexual discrimination). It costs you nothing to file the EEOC complaint and based upon the strengths of the facts of your case and with the right to sue letter, most attorneys would take these cases on a modified contingency basis, meaning they get paid if you win but they charge you some small retainer (usually about $2500) to cover their costs and filing fees (but this is negotiable as well and you can shop the employment discrimination attorneys in your area at http://www.martindale.com). The fact that you have had the stable for years is good for your case in showing that this being used as an excuse now is merely a pretext for discrimination.


Edited by PaulMJD on 1/2/2010 at 7:39 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Third try to get this reply to go though. What would I be suing for? What are the benefits to doing so (other than not letting this happen to anyone else)? How costly (ballpark estimate) would this be to do? More info: stable has been established since 2006 and at least 2 years of showing. The took my health insurance effective immediately, it this allowed!?! I am able to go on my husband's insurance, so I do not have a lapse. They also offered me to come back as a waitress in July after the baby, but not to manage - and not in the spring, so I can only assume they do not want me 'looking pregnant'. Normally I am 5'9" and 125-130lbs. My husband works for the same company, and in his exit interview they told him it had nothing to do with performance and they said that if they were to open another restaurant they would want me on the project because I am so good at it. What!?!?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
You would be suing for discrimination, loss of wages from your employment, mental anguish at not being rehired. Them not bringing you back based upon pregnancy is illegal. You may also have an argument for benefits under COBRA if you prove this discharge was not for cause, which it does not appear to be. You have recourse here, but you are going to need to pursue it. As far as your husband's insurance, that is up to the terms of the policy in allowing add ons.


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