New York Attorney General Announces Settlement Reached in Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Against Syracuse Mortuary School

file0001797266196 morguefile Andalusia.jpgNew York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that his office has settled a sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed against a Syracuse mortuary school and its president in 2011. As part of the settlement, the Simmons Institute of Funeral Services and Maurice Wightman agreed to pay restitution to a number of former instructors and students who filed complaints against the school and to implement reforms designed to ensure future harassment and discrimination do not occur. Additionally, both the school and Wightman agreed to refrain from engaging in any sort of retaliation against the women who filed complaints against the institution and to immediately report any future harassment or discrimination allegations to the Office of the Attorney General.

According to the lawsuit, Wightman made sexual comments and inappropriately touched female students. He also allegedly refused to allow both pregnant students and faculty to engage in certain activities despite doctor approval. Ironically, Wightman is reportedly the private for-profit school’s designated contact for all discrimination and harassment complaints.

In New York, discrimination on the basis of a woman’s pregnancy constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any educational institution that receives federal funds from engaging in sex discrimination in education. Additionally, both New York and federal law require employers and educators to refrain from engaging in pregnancy discrimination.

Discrimination based on a worker’s pregnancy status can take many forms. A pregnant employee does not need to be fired for discrimination to occur. For example, discrimination has occurred when an employer refuses to accommodate a pregnant worker’s reasonable request such as an increased number of bathroom breaks. In addition, stripping an employee of her primary job duties, assigning her to work a less desirable shift, or making harassing statements to a pregnant worker also constitutes illegal discrimination.

Pregnancy is a natural biological function that should not cost a woman her job. If you feel you were fired, harassed, or otherwise mistreated at work as a result of your pregnancy, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation. You are advised to contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights in greater detail.

Call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997 if you believe you were unlawfully discriminated against at a New Jersey or New York workplace due to your pregnancy. The experienced employment law attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve workplace discrimination and harassment. To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable advocate, please contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.

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Strippers Win Employee Misclassification Case in New York, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, November 5, 2013
New Jersey Law Allows Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Crimes to Take Unpaid Work Leave, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, November 4, 2013
Additional Resources:

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreement To End Sexual Harassment And Discrimination At Syracuse Mortuary School, New York State Office of the Attorney General Press Release dated October 30, 2013

Syracuse mortuary school agrees to pay $30,000 in sexual harassment suit, by Ken Sturtz, Syracuse.com
Photo credit: Andalusia, morgueFile

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