Abortion discrimination in the workplace is illegal says U.S. district court

The federal judge ruled that it is illegal to discriminate in employment because of "pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions."

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A district court in Louisiana has issued a landmark ruling asserting that abortion discrimination by an employer is illegal and violates women’s protections in the workplace.

A yearlong civil rights discrimination case came to a close in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana when U.S. Federal Judge Janis van Meerveld ruled that Nicole Ducharme, a bartender that was fired within 48 hours of having an abortion, was terminated illegally.

Ducharme was a former bartender at the Deja Vu Bar & Grill in New Orleans. She notified her supervisor that she needed time off to terminate her pregnancy and was granted leave as long as she could and was fired less than two days later.

The plaintiff and her legal team argued that Déjà Vu Bar & Grill violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Louisiana Pregnancy Discrimination Act (LPDA).

The defendants, Crescent City Déjà Vu LLC (CCVD), claimed that Ducharme was drinking while on the job. Ducharme admits to having a drink while working the bar but claimed that it was a regular practice for all the workers at the bar and that she was never given a verbal warning as her employers claimed.

CCVD also argued that abortion discrimination is illegal under federal and state law. The company alleges that Title VII “does not recognize abortion as a protected characteristic.” Judge van Meerveld sided instead with Ducharme, confirming that abortion discrimination by an employer does indeed violate both federal and state law.

Van Meerveld stated that under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate in employment because of “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” 

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