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Woman claims she was wrongfully terminated for pregnancy bed rest

In Oct. 2007, a relatively new legal secretary at the Washington, D.C., office of a national law firm learned that she was pregnant. Unfortunately, there was a dangerous tear in her placenta. Her doctor recommended full bed rest until the tear had healed, so she took approved, short-term disability leave from her job. In Jan. 2008, she was fired from her job despite having no previous problems at the job and having been led to believe she was well regarded.

She believes this was wrongful termination in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. She has filed suit against the law firm under those two statutes, along with a claim for intentional infliction of emotional harm. She is seeking $1 million in compensation for those violations and $10 million in punitive damages because, the lawsuit reads, she was subjected to "outrageous, misogynistic attitude, behavior, and treatment of a woman that shocks the conscience."

"I was on mandated bed rest," she told reporters recently. "I did everything I was supposed to do as far as getting my disability and checking in....They just terminated me at my lowest point, regardless of all that I had done."

In fact, she claims in her complaint that, at the time of her wrongful termination, the human resources actually told her that the complications in her pregnancy "were not his problem." She learned later that the HR director had told other employees she was fired because she improperly took leave for morning sickness.

Her attorney commented that he had never used the term "misogynistic" in a legal complaint before, but felt it was warranted in this case. "That's exactly why [the Pregnancy Discrimination Act] was passed, to prevent that."

Source: The Blog of Legal Times, "Fired Latham Secretary Alleges Pregnancy Discrimination," Zoe Tillman, April 22, 2013

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