Pregnancy Discrimination in California and the Mixed-Motive Defense

Discrimination within the office can not often be characterised as blatantly apparent and simple. Extra typically, discrimination happens in such a method that the worker is left questioning whether or not the methods wherein she or he has been handled qualifies as discrimination. When the worker has exhibited problematic conduct previously, it’s simple to wonder if an employer’s seemingly discriminatory actions have been justified primarily based on efficiency somewhat than an element reminiscent of gender, race or incapacity.

The California Supreme Courtroom will quickly be questioning whether or not employers can assert a “mixed-motive protection” in circumstances of alleged being pregnant discrimination. This protection would permit employers to say that even when they discriminate in opposition to girls because of their standing as pregnant, if the employer would have terminated the worker anyway because of components like poor efficiency, the employer is not going to be allowed to be held chargeable for the being pregnant discrimination.

Wynona Harris and the Metropolis of Santa Monica

The California Supreme Courtroom has determined to evaluate the case of Wynona Harris. Harris was employed as a Huge Blue Bus (BBB) driver in Santa Monica for roughly six months earlier than her employment was terminated. Her efficiency file was blended. She had acquired comparatively favorable efficiency evaluations and compliments from her supervisor, however had additionally suffered two minor accidents throughout her coaching interval and had did not name in to BBB that she must miss a shift within the time interval required by her employers. Although she had been internally labeled as an worker who was not at the moment assembly the requirements for continued employment, Harris was not suggested of this reality. Three days after she knowledgeable her employer that she was pregnant, she was terminated.

The Metropolis of Santa Monica has denied that it terminated Ms. Harris for any motive apart from her poor efficiency. Regardless, the Metropolis insists that that the jury which initially tried the case ought to have been instructed on the “mixed-motive” protection, which it was not. The unique jury was as an alternative instructed to seek out the Metropolis chargeable for discrimination if Ms. Harris’s being pregnant was a motivating issue within the termination of her employment. So instructed, the jury awarded Ms. Harris practically $200,000 in damages and $400,000 in legal professional’s charges. The Metropolis insists that had the jury been instructed on the mixed-motive protection, the case would have been determined otherwise.

The Blended-Motive Protection

Federal and California legislation each prohibit discrimination primarily based on intercourse. Being pregnant discrimination is taken into account intercourse discrimination and is thus prohibited. The mixed-motive protection doesn’t assert that being pregnant discrimination is suitable in and of itself. As an alternative, the protection asserts that if an employer terminates an worker primarily based on each discriminatory and non-discriminatory causes, and the employer would have terminated the worker primarily based on the non-discriminatory causes had the discriminatory ones not been current, the employer can’t be held chargeable for wrongful termination primarily based on discrimination. The rationale behind the mixed-motive protection is that no discriminatory hurt really befalls an worker if their employment in the end would have been terminated because of non-discriminatory causes.

If the Courtroom guidelines that the mixed-motive protection could also be legitimately asserted in discrimination circumstances, the consequences can be dramatic. Basically, employers can be granted far higher energy in discrimination circumstances, as they might now not be compelled to disclaim discriminatory conduct. All that an employer would wish to do to flee legal responsibility for prohibited conduct is justify the termination of its staff on efficiency or different legit grounds; even when the employer’s main motivation is discriminatory.

The Courtroom will doubtless rule on whether or not the mixed-motive protection is allowed in all discrimination circumstances or solely in circumstances the place sure fact-patterns are current. The Courtroom may even doubtless make clear whether or not or not the protection will protect employers from legal responsibility fully or just mitigate it. No matter how the Courtroom guidelines, the impression of the Harris case is prone to affect numerous circumstances that will probably be determined subsequently.

For Additional Reference

The legislation protects staff from many sorts of discrimination. Should you really feel that you just or somebody you care about has been discriminated in opposition to by an employer, please contact an skilled employment legislation legal professional who can advise you of your choices.

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