Articles – Claim for Pregnancy Discrimination

The following column, authored by Lindsey Novak, originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune on January 3, 1999, and is reprinted with their permission:

Claim for Pregnancy Discrimination

Q – After working as a sales analyst for 11 months, the company fired me four days after I told my manager that I was pregnant. She claimed it was due to poor work performance, but that was the first time I had heard anything about it. Before that, she and the company president sent me e-mails letting me know what a great job I was doing and to keep up the good work. Everyone else was in shock when they heard I was fired and all are willing to support me. I never had an actual performance review, though, so is it going to be my word against theirs? I’d like to sue them. Where do I start?

A – First, request in writing a copy of your personnel file. The company must furnish this to you. Next, make an appointment to speak to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigator to file a charge. You may also want to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and consult an employment law attorney. Even though you never had a formal performance review, I hope you kept copies of the e-mails complimenting your performance. According to Eugene K. Hollander, a Chicago-based employment law attorney, if the company fails to turn over any documents regarding your performance when it sends you your personnel file, it won’t be able to produce any later documents that will be admissible in a court case. Hollander also says that the timing of the announcement of your pregnancy and your subsequent termination seem highly suspect, and you may very well have a case for discrimination.