Pregnancy Discrimination Suit Against Lucasfilm Headed to California Supreme Court

January 25, 2013

A California woman who lost a discrimination judgement awarded to her when the ruling was appealed has appealed that outcome in the California Supreme Court.

Julie Gilman Veronese was accepted for a job while pregnant, and never began working. The Marin Independent Journal reported the details: "Veronese filed the lawsuit in 2009 after a job fell through at the San Anselmo estate of 'Star Wars' filmmaker George Lucas. Veronese, then 36, had applied for a position as assistant to Sarita Patel, the estate manager. Veronese, who was hired but never started work, claimed she was terminated because she became pregnant."

The litigants are dramatically different---the case has "pitted the vast legal resources of Lucasfilm against the tenacious anti-discrimination lawyer Angela Alioto," according to the same article.

(This blog recently covered the entertainment industry on the subject of unlawful unpaid internships---Fox Entertainment Group is among the media companies currently being sued for their intern practices.)

In another recent pregnancy discrimination case, a South Florida HR director was told to check social media to see if applicants were likely to become pregnant. When the employee herself became pregnant, she was hassled for seeing her doctor and then fired. She has filed suit for $15,000.

Until legislation in 1978---the Pregnancy Discrimination Act---pregnancy wasn't even protected under the law. Since then, though, progress toward fair treatment of expectant mothers has been limited. A Philadelphia Inquirer blog post pointed out: "While the [1978] law was hailed as a giant step forward for working pregnant women, it has become clear during the intervening years that it failed to adequately protect women from unreasonable treatment in the workplace. As a result of a loophole, pregnant women are protected from being treated differently than other workers but employers are not compelled to make reasonable accommodations for the pregnant women." (Emphasis added.)

Until laws reflect the appropriate level of respect for women bearing children, this battle will be fought in the courts. Sadly, pregnancy discrimination cases are only becoming more frequent.

If you've faced discrimination at work for becoming a mother, or have any questions about relevant laws---and compensation you may be due---contact The Harman Firm today.