Oprah Hit With Lawsuit Over Pregnancy Discrimination

 @ericbrownzzz on February 02 2013 9:06 PM
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey Reuters

An ex-employee of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network claims she is a victim of sexual discrimination because the network fired her after she became pregnant and subsequently gave birth.

The former employee, Carolyn Hommel, was hired in 2010 as OWN’s senior director of scheduling and acquisitions, according to TMZ’s account of a lawsuit she filed on Friday. In the court filing, Hommel claimed she was on track to become a vice president, but that the situation changed when she became pregnant, the celebrity-gossip site reported.

Hommel claimed her duties were slowly transferred to another employee, that she was excluded from meetings when she returned from medical leave, and that she was terminated one month after giving birth, TMZ said.

Hommel also claimed her supervisor, Michael Garner, fabricated a performance review that "made Hommel's job duties and responsibilities appear less 'senior' and therefore not a candidate for the new vice president position," TMZ reported.

In addition, Hommel claimed her termination was directly related to her becoming pregnant and requiring medical leave, TMZ said.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency responsible for handling cases of sexual and pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because of pregnancy.

Employers are required to provide pregnant employees with time off equal to that received by other temporarily disabled employees. According to the EEOC, “An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work.”

And the agency noted, “Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.”

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