No, getting fired after telling a supervisor you are pregnant is not retaliation. Or is it?


No, it isn’t.

I know this because, among other things, I read this Fifth Circuit decision last night after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots. The plaintiff, a pharmacy technician, was pregnant when her employer hired her. Then, she chose to disclose her pregnancy to her supervisor a few weeks into her new job. And, yada, yada, yada, the plaintiff got fired. According to the company, it terminated the plaintiff for failure to follow instructions and insubordination.

But, the plaintiff believed that the defendant had ulterior motives. Specifically, she alleged that discriminatory and retaliatory animus motivated the company to fire her.

Let’s look at the retaliation claim first. The plaintiff argued that she presented sufficient evidence to support a retaliation claim because she “was retaliated against when [she] complained about the unfair treatment. . . because of my pregnancy.”


Here’s the problem. To present a tenable retaliation claim under Title VII, an employee must engage in protected activity, like opposing an unlawful practice (e.g., complaining internally about discrimination) or going to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Disclosing a pregnancy is not a protected activity for a Title VII retaliation claim because it’s not tantamount to opposing discrimination or participating in an EEOC proceeding.

The court also noted that, although the plaintiff also complained about “unfair treatment” and “rude behavior,” making a general complaint about mistreatment or “hostile work environments” does not qualify as a protected activity under Title VII either.

The plaintiff didn’t fare any better with her pregnancy discrimination claim, as there was no genuine dispute that the defendant terminated the plaintiff during her probationary period, and her termination letter identified insubordination and failure to follow directions as the reason for her dismissal. Plus, the plaintiff admitted that she committed the incidents the defendant complained of, such as forgetting to prepare an assigned presentation and not following instructions.

Here’s the thing. When the plaintiff corroborates the legitimate reasons why the defendant fired her, there’s not much the plaintiff can present to show that the defendant’s reasons for dismissing the lawsuit lack truth or credence.

We’ll file this one under “case dismissed.”

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