pregnancy discrimination in a medical spa setting

I am a highly educated nurse practitioner in nyc. I have a BS and an MA. I am licensed as an RN and also as an NP-C in New York. I was hired to work for a cosmetic dermatology "medi-spa" to learn and practice cosmetic dermatology treatments. This is a small, new upstart company which is based on doing facial peels, laser treatments, botox treatments, and line filler treatments.

I found out I was pregnant one month into working there. I notified my workplace of my pregnancy when I was safely into my 4th month of pregnancy.
I was given a glowing review at 3 months of employment, along with a raise. I was told that I was "highly productive" and had "extremely good leadership qualities." I was also recommended for a managerial position.

2 weeks ago, I was told that my "productivity was declining"- basically my patients were not buying a lot of high paying treatments (botox, line fillers)--- but my credentials are based on patient need, not making money.

Yesterday, the CEO of the company met with me directly and stated " you are under extensive review for your declining numbers- you need to start maximizing the new client visits and make more money". She gave me two weeks to make more money or else I would be re-evaluated...


There have been recent blatant discriminations against an RN who was pregnant (she was pulled out of a certification program for her esthetics license b/c she was going on maternity leave, so they figured why bother)- she then quit.

Also, I found out recently from another RN that during a management meeting she attended, statements were made about my pregnancy. (" you know that during the management meetings, they're always saying little subtle comments like ' well Tara's pregnant and so we cannot expect too much from her'" was what she specifically said.)

So basically, I am going to get fired in two weeks if my "numbers per patient visit" do not improve. I think that because I am now 7 1/2 months pregnant, likely to go on maternity leave in 6 weeks (which means they cannot hire someone else legally, so they're losing money on patient visits by not having another clinician on- site) that they are making up reasons to fire me.

What should I do?

Do I get more concrete evidence of pregnancy- related statements?

Do I get a copy of an HR manual which states my job requirements ?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 19, 2004 04:21 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Pregnancy Discrimination

Sometime back a woman brought a sex discrimination claim. The facts indicated that the real motivating factor wasn't so much her sex but that she was pregnant. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court said that employment decisions based on an employee's pregnancy are not sex discrimination.

This decision came down more than 20 years ago, when Congress and the President could still be counted upon to make rational decisions. Congress passed, and the President signed into law the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The law basically says that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination, overturning the Supreme Court decision.

When you talk about pregnancy discrimination, like any other form of discrimination, you are talking about proving intent. That is, to succeed in a pregnancy discrimination case, you need to show that the decision to terminate, or whatever, was at least in part motivated by your pregnancy. You do not get automatic job protection just because you are pregnant.

Employers, of course, will rarely admit to a discriminatory motive. So, most discrimination cases involve circumstantial evidence. One form of circumstantial evidence that sometimes works is proof like that discussed in this query: An employee is performing just fine. She then tells her employer she is pregnant. Shortly after that, she suddenly becomes a problem employee, and is soon after that fired for performance reasons.

Timing would be very important, and it would greatly help if there were other indicators of pregnancy discrimination, such as comments concerning an employee's condition, or about the abilities of pregnant women.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Aug 19, 2004 08:28 AM [EST]

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