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Employee Fired After Abortion May Proceed with Pregnancy Claim

Elena DeJesus worked as a teller at Florida Central Credit Union. Right after beginning her employment, she learned that she was pregnant. Ms. DeJesus scheduled an abortion and cleared the absence with her supervisor. Her supervisor knew the reason for her absence and approved the time off.
At her two-week performance review, everything was positive and went well. Yet, right after the review, the branch manager told her that she was being fired for missing work. She was allegedly told that the abortion was not an acceptable reason for missing work, notwithstanding that it had been approved by her supervisor. Ms. DeJesus filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then filed suit.
The credit union attempted to have her case dismissed, claiming that she had not made out a case for pregnancy discrimination. While it conceded that Title VII’s protections include the choice to have an abortion, Florida Central argued that it was not required to give her preferential treatment because she was pregnant. The federal district court noted that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act “prohibits an employer from discriminating against a female employee because she has had an abortion.” Because Ms. DeJesus has alleged she was a member of a protected class based on her sex and pregnancy, that she was qualified for her position (as demonstrated by her performance evaluation) and that she was fired for taking pre-approved time off for an abortion, she had provided enough to proceed with her case.