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Verdict: Lucasfilm Discriminated Against Pregnant Woman

A San Francisco woman prevailed in a lawsuit against Lucasfilm Ltd. For canceling her job after the company founded by famed director George Lucas learned she was pregnant. The jury awarded her $113,830.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Julie Gilman Veronese, 37, filed her suit against the independent film company late in 2009, claiming that an aide to Lucas withdrew an offer for a position as personal assistant to the director after Veronese disclosed her pregnancy.

The jury rejected the argument the filmmaker’s lawyers made that Veronese was hired for a 30-day project and that she had agreed to end the project.

Veronese had countered that she’d been hired for a permanent, full-time position that began with a probationary 30-day period. Days before starting work, Veronese revealed to a Lucas aide that she was pregnant; the aide responded by telling her not to report to work.

According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, “An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.”The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is clear on the subject of pregnancy discrimination in hiring whether in California or elsewhere in the nation: “The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.”

If a person is hired with a probationary period, the pregnancy can’t legally be a factor in the decision not to hire.

If a person is hired for a specific project rather than for a full-time, permanent position, they can be let go by the employer at the completion of the project regardless of their pregnancy.

Because Veronese was able to prove to the jury that pregnancy was a factor in the decision to withdraw the offer for a full-time, permanent position, she was successful in her pregnancy discrimination litigation, regardless of the wealth and stature of the prestigious company her suit was against.

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