This case was brought by a former employee of one of Epstein Becker Green’s clients, On Lok, inc., which is a nonprofit organization that serves the Bay Area’s elderly population (“Organization”). The plaintiff filed a lawsuit after her employment was terminated when she was seven 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 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. The court allowed the Epstein Becker Green defense team to introduce favorable historical data regarding the Organization’s treatment of employees who requested pregnancy-related leaves of absence during the 10 years preceding the plaintiff’s termination. Additionally, at the defense team’s request, the court 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.