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Bloomberg Pregnancy Claims Dismissed by NY Judge

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 18, 2011 6:46 AM

A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed the 2007 Bloomberg pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on the grounds that the government failed to show sufficient evidence that such discrimination was a company-wide policy.

The lawsuit, filed as a class-action, alleged that Bloomberg L.P. systematically targeted pregnant women and those who took maternity leave by reducing their pay, instigating demotions, and excluding them from meetings and other events.

For a group of employees to allege discrimination on a class action basis, they must show that there was a "pattern or practice" of discrimination such that the alleged behavior rose to the level of a company-wide policy.

June's Supreme Court decision in Walmart v. Dukes made this significantly more difficult to prove, particularly in the area of employment class action lawsuits.

Like in that case, the Bloomberg pregnancy lawsuit ultimately came down to the fact that individual managers make compensation and other work-related decisions based on objective guidelines promulgated by the company.

Statistical evidence also showed that these women were treated the same as others who took leave for unrelated reasons.

Taken together, the judge concluded that there was no evidence of "systemized practice of decreasing the pay, responsibility or other terms and conditions of the employment of pregnant employees and mothers because they became pregnant or took maternity leave."

While this is a harsh decision, those Bloomberg pregnancy plaintiffs with actual evidence of discrimination still have the option of bringing individual lawsuits against the company, even though the lack of class action status makes such suits significantly more costly.

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