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Retaliation for Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

$150,000 – Employee Discrimination

Facts

A jury found that the County of San Diego had retaliated against a female deputy district attorney for bringing a pregnancy discrimination claim.

Plaintiff, a 37-year-old district attorney for the County of San Diego for ten years, specializing in domestic violence, became pregnant with her first child. She disclosed this fact to her superiors in December. After her disclosure, she was accused of suddenly becoming a morale problem, that she didn’t get along with her co-workers and didn’t do her fair share of the workload. After successfully trying back-to-back domestic homicide cases as well as a third felony in her last trimester and returning from maternity leave, she found herself in misdemeanor trials. The response to her formal complaint about the discrimination was the assignment of a biased investigator, a substandard performance evaluation and a counseling memo accusing her of dishonesty and insubordination. In fact, the District Attorney told her, himself, that she would never try another domestic violence case.

In November, plaintiff requested a one-year leave of absence, which was granted. Plaintiff did not return from her leave, and instead, she resigned.

Allegations/Contentions

Plaintiff alleged there were violations of the pregnancy discrimination statutes contained within the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), violations of the family leave statutes contained within the FEHA, the California Family Rights Act, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Plaintiff also alleged violations of various anti-retaliation provisions in anti-discrimination statutes, as well as Labor Code Section 1102.5, and wrongful constructive termination.

Injuries/Damages

Emotional distress injuries. Loss of income.

Special Notes

The jury originally awarded $250,000 on the retaliation claim. The Court reduced the verdict to $150,000 because it felt the jury included attorney’s fees in its verdict. The Court then awarded attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $273,481.

The County appealed. The Fourth District Court of Appeal found for the Plaintiff and certified the case for partial publication. The official citation is Akers v. County of San Diego (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 1441


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