Do I have a case against a major corporation?

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Do I have a case against a major corporation?

I work for a major tech company. I went on maternity leave with my job secure. Came back and immediately told my position would be eliminated but they’d give me some time to try and find something else within the company. Strung me along for almost a year with ideals of a new position that did not happen. External people were hired over me. I have had good/great performance reviews. Someone high up in the company who wishes to remain nameless said there’s been a block placed on me and that no matter what I do I will not be accepted for another position simply because I have not received a promotion in 5 years and it’s an underlying bias that the company has. She also said that they strung me along with fake promises of jobs for a year to cover themselves for any suit I could bring re maternity leave.

Asked on November 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether this occured because you were pregnant and went on maternity leave--which would be illegal sex-based discrimination (since only women get pregnant, discriminating against employees due to pregnancy or child birth is discriminating against women)--or whether it is due to some non-sex-based reason, such as something about your work performance or relationship to a supervisor or supervisor--which would be legal, since as long as it not specifically illegal discrimination (or violation of a written employment contract), an employer may treat employee A differently or worse than employee B.
What you write suggests that it is sex-based discrimination (e.g. based on the timing), but does not prove or establish it (since, for example, there is no "smoking gun" anti-woman or -pregnancy comment or memo). Contact the federal EEOC and explain the situation to them; if they concur that you have articulated facts suggesting sex-based discrimination (i.e. that you have established a "prima facie," or  on-its-face or presumptive, case), they will contact your employer and investigate. Among other things, they will look at company statisics: how does the treatment of women overall compare to that of men? What about the treament of pregnant women? Etc. If the statistics show that on average, in your company, women are promoted less, have lower level jobs, and/or are paid less, that will signifiantly enhance your case. The employer will also have the opportunity to present its evidence (e.g of poor performance on your part, or rules/policy infractions, or poor interaction with coworkers, managers, or clients) to try to show that the way they treat you is not discrimination against women, but rather is based on some issue specific to you. If your employer cannot establish or prove a non-discriminatory reason and the statistics, etc. support your narrative, then you should have a good chance of winning in court.


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