Unsubstantiated Concerns Ruled Pregnancy Discrimination - A Cautionary Tale

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The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a decision by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission ("FEHC") finding that an employer discriminated against a pregnant employee in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. In SASCO Electric v. FEHC, an extremely experienced female who served as a second captain of a yacht was terminated shortly after she informed her employer that she was pregnant. Her employer was admittedly disappointed by the news because he believed that "mothers do not want to work in the boating business." Moreover, he believed the employee's plan to work as long as possible during her pregnancy was "cavalier." Further, he had liability concerns (e.g., her exposure to chemicals and possibly falling on the boat which could lead to a miscarriage). These fears lead the employer to terminate her employment under the guise of a layoff.

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