Very recently in the news, Los Angeles based clothing retailer, Nasty Gal, felt the heat as discrimination claims and a lawsuit hit them head on. The founder of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, has been recognized as a leader in business and a great example for women everywhere of strong entrepreneurial skills and a drive to succeed. She turned a hobby of selling clothes on eBay into a lucrative business turning a profit of $100 million a year. The problem is, Nasty Gal apparently forgot to follow proper procedures when it came time to layoff 10% of their employees. Unfortunately, 4 of those employees laid off were the ONLY pregnant employees plus one recent father who had requested paternity leave. Hence, a discrimination lawsuit by a former employee turned into a costly mistake for Nasty Gal.
[tweetthis remove_hidden_hashtags=”true”]California has one of the most employee-friendly policies regarding pregnant employees.[/tweetthis] Unluckily for Nasty Gal, they are headquartered in California, which means they are held to the highest standards in regards to protecting pregnant employees and anyone who falls under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines. Speaking of California, did you hear about the case last year involving AutoZone and a pregnant employee who walked away from a discrimination lawsuit with $185 million in damages? That’s quite the costly mistake!
As we have learned with these recent cases, there is an overall expectation in many workplaces of pregnant women not being able to do their job, or being a “short timer” or having ultimate goals that don’t line up with the company vision. All of these things may be true, but they can also be true for the 35 year old single guy who is looking for his next big opportunity. So assuming anything about anyone in the workplace is an automatic no-no because you, as the employer, cannot impose your views on any employee and expect for your intentions to be clear. Your actions will be up to interpretation, and your intentions will be something for you to know and have to defend in court. Instead, why not set up policies to protect the company as well as your pregnant employees? It remains to be seen whether or not Nasty Gal will be held liable for these accusations of discriminatory actions, but the case stands as a warning to all employers regardless of the outcome.