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California - Pregnancy Discrimination

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  • California - Pregnancy Discrimination

    California - employer is a major banking institution

    Hello everyone, so here's a question.

    My wife is pregnant and has recently found her managers looking for ways to write her up. There were enough instances wehre I finally helped her bring all of these together to file a complaint with an upper level manager as well as the HR department.

    After reviewing other instances of pregnancy discrimination it became clear just how obvious it was now. So the complaint letter clearly spelled out the differences in treatment and her recognition that her rights are being violated.

    The 15-page complaint was just sent in to the upper level manager and the HR department. Based on the odd "nice" comments that took place later in the day it was obvious they had been spoken to.

    However, of the two manager that the complaints were based on, one of them definitely deserves no breaks. So the question at this point is whether to continue on and file the necessary complaints with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Dept. of Fair Housing & Employment.

    My wife feels that we should see what they do from this point forward. I hate to think that these managers are going to be spoken to by HR, make their changes and still be held unaccountable. The idea that once their ridiculous actions are finally brought to light that they can "change" their behaviors, strictly for the sake of keeping the company out of trouble, is ridiculous to me. A complaint has been filed against them, they certainly haven't had a change of heart by any means, so why shouldn't the complaints be filed with the appropriate govt. agencies?

    If the EEOC and Dept. of Fair Housing & Employment have the ability to do their own research into the matter and possibly seek damages on her behalf then why wouldn't someone file the complaints with them as well???

    My wife has reservations, I want to see that this issue isn't just going to be swept away by HR for the sake of keepingthe company out of trouble. They're not happy to have complaints filed so not having an investigation initiated isn't going to change their image towards her later down the line.

    I want to see them held aaccountable and investigated by the govt. agencies and I want them to recover whatever they can in damages to make up for the b/s they've put my wife through. I know that HR is only there to prvent employees from filing lawsuits against the company and have no faith that they're there for the employee interests, just their own.

    Your thoughts??? Thanks.

  • #2
    Since a complaint was made/filed internally to upper level management & HR & if the discrimination due to your wife's pregnancy has now stopped, I would pursue no further. If it continues, then I would file a complaint with the appropriate agency.

    Your wife still has her job & has apparently suffered no monetary damages.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.


    • #3
      thanks for the input, good to have another perspective on the issue


      • #4
        If you're strictly talking about write ups, and no other action, and the employer has addressed the problem (ie, removed bogus write ups from her file), then at this juncture there is no other remedy available. But definitely keep track of any further action by the employer.

        And I would also make sure that they are providing her with notification of her maternity leave rights (and are properly designating such leave.)


        • #5
          I've also been in touch with an attorney who will be reviewing the circumstances.

          They've given us some good information in regards to what to focus on when meeting with the HR department to discuss the issues.

          After the complaint is reviewed by the attorney we'll see what advice is given. What are the general thoughts on the HR department's role in circumstnaces like these???


          • #6
            HR should review all of the evidence and make a logical conclusion based on the evidence as to whether her complaints have merit. If HR determines that her complaints are meritorious, they should then take steps to remedy the problem and ensure that future problems do not arise.


            • #7
              I understand that that's what they do, however it is important to note that they are not there to protect the employee... they are there to make sure the company doesn't get sued first.

              In doing so the employee receives the benefits of them protecting the company (or what they perceive to be the HR protecting their them). I have seen it first-hand and it disgusts me. I have seen valid and logical arguments swept aside by HR who have said, sorry, nothing realy took place... referring to the fact that they had legal loopholes that prevented any of the complaints from sticking.

              I've also been informed not to give anymore information to HR other than the facts that have already been documented because they will attempt to gather anything that puts the company in a better position in regards to the potential legal problems they could face.

              Writing the complaint is half of the process/game, all of the nice stuff that comes from those supervisors is the next part of the game, then HR comes in to try and ensure they can gather enough info to get out from under the predicament they're in. They are a crisis management team for the company, the employee's interest (in the cases I've seen) are hardly their priority.

              Anyone else experience this as well?


              • #8
                I take a certain amount of issue with your characterization of HR - certainly one of their many duties is to see that the company does not get sued, but that does not mean sweeping everything under the rug - it means seeing that the laws are followed. That includes doing investigations where necessary, and making the best non-biased judgement they can. It does not mean taking the word of either the accused or the accuser without verifying, as best as they can, what has taken place. But their ability to find the truth is limited to what information they can get people to provide them; sometimes it is simply not possible to determine for certain what did and did not happen or identify beyond doubt what someone's motive is.

                However, in that your wife already has a lawyer, it would be irresponsible in the extreme for anyone here to secondguess their instructions. They have more information than we possibly can.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


                • #9
                  True, those are cetainly solid points. I am just frsutrated by what I've seen from the HR departments from a few giant corporations and we look to protect ourselves from all angles.

                  WE have also received some good info in regards to which agencies one should file with. The EEOC was not the recommended one since they operate at the federal level and their protectin is not as good as the DFEH which operates according to California's standards.

                  We've been told that to file with the EEOC could make the process a bit of an unnecessary uphill battle since CA had better employee protection.

                  Again, thanks for the feedback.


                  • #10
                    If you think you have a valid complaint, file it... you can do both FEHA and EEOC...
                    Filing with the ER does not move that complaint forward, only internal handling. I have to agree with cbg. HR handles all types of issues surrounding 'employment practices' for the company.
                    I also notice in your post...
                    I've also been informed not to give anymore information to HR other than the facts that have already been documented because they will attempt to gather anything that puts the company in a better position in regards to the potential legal problems they could face.

                    Writing the complaint is half of the process/game,...
                    That is good adivise. What you are doing otherwise, as you are here, amounts to a rant. I would have to imagine from your posts here, your 15 pager could conceivabaly be cut to about 3 pages at most and conveyed your point nicely. Certainly enough to get their attention. Beyond the first or second page of any letter like yours, the reader simply loses interest... at the very least, an interruption is cause to begin reading anew, lost your point.

                    Your atty remains your best source of legal information, and advise. All the readers here taking your side won't make any difference. Only to bolster your feelings of being 'right'. If that helps.


                    • #11
                      Thanks CAIW, I know what you mean.

                      I agree, this posting is a bit of me ranting because I can’t do that in the complaint. I have a different viewpoint on writing complaint letters and a 3-page submission would never be sufficient to protect oneself from the onset. But this thread isn’t the place for that discussion.

                      But that brings up an interesting topic relevant to this forum. A sticky needs to be made on the topic of how to write a solid complaint letter to submit to an employer including best practices etc. I have a structure that I use and my last involvement in dealing with a complaint resulted in a very favorable outcome, the class representative of a $17M class action lawsuit.

                      I think many people have very little idea as to what should go into a complaint and what should not. Anyways, that would be my suggestion that I’d be happy to contribute to if there is an interest.

                      Good info everyone, if I learn more useful advice from our attorney I’ll share.


                      • #12
                        If the problems are brought to the company's attention and the company remedies the situation, then that is all the EEOC or courts are going to require. You just can't legislate or adjudicate someone's true feelings only how they are expressed. Suing the manager isn't going to make them like pregnant employees any more than they do now. In fact it is likely to have the opposite effect.

                        I'm not sure what you want to happen here other than you seem intent on a lawsuit of some kind which I just don't understand. You are talking a very long process which can be extremely stressful and expensive and with very uncertain outcomes. Frankly, if the company is willing to take the letter seriously and fix things without having to drag lawyers and judges into the mix, be greatful!!

                        I do have to agree with CAIW that a 3 page letter can be FAR more effective than a 15 pager. If you are filling 15 pages you either are either including a lot of unnecessary detail and commentary or nit picking. No one wants to slog through 15 pages to figure out what the problem is and if it appears that "everything" is a problem, your complaints are not as likely to be taken seriously. If someone complains about every little thing the problem starts to seem less like the manager or department and more like the employee.
                        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


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