In Codrington v. Carco Group (decided June 27, 2014), the Eastern District of New York held that plaintiff stated a plausible pregnancy discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In sum, plaintiff claims that defendant replaced her with a younger non-mother six weeks after she gave birth and while she was on pregnancy leave.
Here’s the law:
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer “to discharge any individual … because of such individual’s … sex.” [Title VII, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978] provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes.”
Pregnancy discrimination claims are analyzed using the three-step burden-shifting analysis set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green[.] Under this framework, the plaintiff has the burden of first establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. A plaintiff can establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination under Title VII by showing that (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she satisfactorily performed the duties required by the position; (3) she was discharged; and (4) her position remained open and was ultimately filled by a non-pregnant employee.
The court assumed the complaint sufficiently pleaded the first three elements, and thus turned to consider whether plaintiff sufficiently alleged the fourth element.
In a pregnancy discrimination case, a plaintiff may satisfy the fourth element by demonstrating that “her position remained open [after her discharge] and was ultimately filled by a non-pregnant employee.”
Here, plaintiff’s complaint passed muster, at least at the pleading stage. Specifically, plaintiff “alleged that her position remained open for five (5) weeks and was ultimately filled by ‘a college student’ ‘with no children.'” Furthermore, “[w]hile plaintiff does not specifically allege that this college student was not pregnant, a liberal construction of the pleadings requires this Court to construe that allegation as such.” Therefore, “plaintiff has satisfied the fourth prong because she has alleged that her position remained open and was ultimately filled by a non-pregnant employee, which is sufficient to establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination.”