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Woman: Pregnancy sparked Texas-based company�s discrimination

When a woman becomes pregnant, she faces a number of restrictions. There are certain items she cannot eat and certain activities she needs to avoid. Carrying a child can have repercussions in a Texas workplace as far as changing a woman's ability to perform her job to the fullest. The way a company handles these situations is imperative, as a misstep could lead to the woman claiming employment discrimination. A recent case reminds us that these claims can turn into full-blown court cases.

In 2008, a woman in Iowa became pregnant while working for a Texas-based chain store. The woman had a doctor's note claiming that she could not lift more than 20 pounds. The company had a policy in place that it would not accommodate temporary health conditions that were not related to a work incident. Therefore, she was given the choice to be terminated or go on unpaid leave, and she chose to go on leave.

The woman later filed a complaint with the state’s civil rights commission stating that she had been discriminated against due to her pregnancy. The company, however, argued that the woman had signed a contract agreeing that the matter would be handled through arbitration. The state Supreme Court ruled that the case could proceed despite the contract.

The company’s attorney noted that the ruling goes against a U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating that state agencies had to honor such contracts. The case will now be reviewed by an administrative law judge. This situation illustrates the importance of having proper representation during employment litigation. The right attorney can cite case law and other evidence to help protect a company from a lawsuit or a needless expense of time and money.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, “Court: Bias case against Rent-a-Center can proceed,” Ryan J. Foley, Feb. 28, 2014

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