The plaintiff, a former employee of On Lok, inc., a non-profit organization which serves the Bay Area elderly population, filed a lawsuit after her employment was terminated when she was seven (7) months pregnant and shortly before her anticipated maternity leave was expected to begin. She claimed pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in response to her request for leaves of absence under the California Family Rights Act and the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, among other related causes of action.
The Epstein Becker Green defense team of Steven Blackburn and Brooke Brown successfully demonstrated that the termination decision was not motivated by the plaintiff’s pregnancy or request for leave, but instead by the plaintiff’s misconduct related to an incident that was reported to and thoroughly investigated by the Organization’s management shortly before the termination decision. In support of its case, the court allowed the defense to introduce favorable historical data regarding the Organization’s treatment of employees who requested pregnancy-related leaves of absence during the ten (10) years preceding the plaintiff’s termination. The court also allowed a special jury instruction regarding the “business judgment rule,” which stated that the jury’s role was not to second-guess the Organization’s business decision, but it should instead determine whether the plaintiff’s pregnancy or request for leave was a motivating reason for the termination decision.
Within a few hours of commencing deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Organization. During post-trial interviews, the jurors indicated that the business judgment rule was critical to their decision.
Matthew Goodin also assisted the EBG defense team in preparing for trial.