We represented “Mary” on discrimination and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations in her workplace. ERISA protects employees from issues related to retirement and health insurance plans when working in private companies.
Mary began working at a company and was immediately recognized as a star worker. Over the next five years she worked there, she earned several promotions along with a large raise and was told repeatedly that she was on track to become a leader within the company. She never had any issues with her performance and was respected in all of the projects she managed.
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After five years, Mary gave birth to a child who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that affects the respiratory and digestive systems. People with cystic fibrosis need to visit their doctor often and can develop chronic coughs and constipation, lung infections, and more. When she returned from maternity leave, management began asking about her health insurance, which she had received through her employment at this company. They repeatedly asked about how much her child was costing the company, and even suggested she switch to a different insurance provider. They also raised issues over her briefly closing her office door when she needed to pump milk and harassed her for requesting privacy while she did so.
While management questioned and harassed her over these things, they also began removing her from projects to which she’d been assigned and refused to give her opportunities to progress in the company. She was denied an application to a position that she was qualified for, had multi-million dollar portfolios removed from her oversight, and was no longer granted leadership training. Management even avoided inviting her to company events and then made comments implying how fun they would be to Mary. The company eventually fired Mary, first claiming it was because of her limited project oversight, then because of a single, questionable disciplinary warning on her record, then because the leadership positions she had been working towards for years had been assigned to a less experienced employee. Because the company fired her instead of demoting her to a different position, Mary lost her health insurance benefits.
We worked with Mary to bring a suit against the company for discrimination and retaliation for her use of company health insurance to care for her son. Our complaint was so strong and detailed that the company settled for $125,000 immediately after we served it to them.
Though we regret that Mary faced the hurtful actions of her management while experiencing the stress of raising a child with a rare disease, it was an honor to represent her and advocate for her rights.