What Happens if You Sue Your Employer for Pregnancy Discrimination in New York and They Do... Nothing

Pregnancy discrimination is an all-too-common problem in workplaces in New York and around the country. Two years ago, the Bipartisan Policy Center reported that roughly 1 in 5 working expectant mothers experienced discrimination on the job. That’s undeniably way too many. One way to work toward ending pregnancy discrimination is to fight back when you are the one harmed by discriminatory practices. If you’ve been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer can help you to protect your rights.

Pregnancy discrimination often necessitates bringing legal action. Sometimes, that means an active defense and a hotly contested trial on the merits. Other times it may mean an employer that… does nothing. When that happens, it’s vital to understand what steps must occur next to secure a favorable judgment, as one recent federal pregnancy discrimination case illustrates.

The worker, A.W., began her delivery driver job in November 2020. Shortly after she started, she learned that she was pregnant. According to her lawsuit, her employer told her to take the next day off. The employer eventually offered her another route, but it fell on a day when she already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled. After that, the employer “removed her from the schedule completely” and “did not respond to her ensuing attempts to return to her position.” The employer fired the woman a month later.

The woman’s federal lawsuit sought compensation for pregnancy discrimination. The employer did nothing to respond to the woman's complaint.

The Steps of Securing a Default Judgment

In response, the driver pursued and obtained a clerk’s default against the employer. This is something to which an employee may be entitled if the employer she sued has taken no action in the case. It’s important to bear in mind that a clerk’s default is not a default judgment and a clerk’s default will not, by itself, entitle you to compensation. Rather, it is a vital preliminary step.

The next step is to ask the judge to enter a default judgment against your employer. Note that the judge will not automatically grant you a default judgment simply because you previously secured a clerk’s default; you have to be prepared to present to the court the evidence necessary to prove the amount of damages you’ve requested.

At this phase, the driver made a temporary misstep, asking the court to issue a default judgment and award her $80,000. The judge refused because the driver had not provided “adequate evidence demonstrating the requested damages figure.” Specifically, the court directed the driver to submit “detailed affidavits supporting the requested damages sum.”

In addition to proving damages, you must “set forth the elements” of your legal claims and explain how your allegations establish each of these elements.

The driver alleged that shortly after she informed her supervisor of her pregnancy, the employer removed her completely from its work schedule (and fired her a few weeks later,) despite a lack of any performance-related workplace problems. In federal court, the elements of a pregnancy discrimination claim include membership in the protected class of pregnant individuals, qualification for the job in question, and suffering workplace discipline or other adverse employment action because of her pregnancy.

The driver’s allegations that her termination followed in swift succession after the employer received notice of her pregnancy was enough.

Although this federal pregnancy discrimination case occurred outside New York, the rules for pursuing a federal discrimination case where your employer does nothing are largely the same in New York as in Florida. The driver’s lawsuit is instructive in several ways, reminding victims of discrimination that they may encounter unexpected “wrinkles” along the path as they seek to hold accountable those responsible for their discrimination. Additionally, whether your case is complex, straightforward, or even uncontested, it always presents a series of procedural hurdles you must clear to recover compensation, and compliance with these procedures is crucial to get a just outcome. As you navigate this process, you need an experienced advocate. The knowledgeable New York pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to be a powerful voice for workers harmed by discrimination and harassment. Contact us online or at (866) 229-9441 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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