In 2008, a Merck employee claimed that the company was acting against her after she announced her third pregnancy. She had been working for the company for 19 years, and is now alleging that she was fired for taking her third maternity leave. She is suing the company for discrimination, but is not seeking retaliation claims.
She has, however, alleged that the pharmaceutical company has a history of discrimination and retaliation against pregnant employees who choose to take maternity leave. She is suing the company and two executives under the New Jersey and federal family leave acts.
She has given specific examples of her male superiors in regards to the alleged discrimination. She was told by one of these superiors that she would not be made vice president of her division due to her plan to take maternity leave for six months. A less-qualified applicant from outside the company was given the position.
In this case, the plaintiff is not seeking a retaliation claim because she did return to work for a year following her maternity leave, but the systematic discrimination for expecting mothers is still an open case. Though we often think of discrimination at work as based on gender, the pressure to perform highly at work can result in this kind of discrimination for maternity leave.
Employees who have been discriminated against in promotions due to maternity time or other discriminating factors may be unsure where to turn for legal advice. Consulting an experienced employment law attorney can help to resolve this difficult issue and act to prevent it from happening in that workplace again.