Law Firms

Former BigLaw associate sues law firm for alleged pregnancy discrimination

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A former labor and employment associate at Fox Rothschild has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired in December 2018 because of her pregnancy.

Former associate Fonda Kosmala said in the Dec. 1 lawsuit the law firm claimed that she was fired because her outside work as a licensed realtor created a potential conflict of interest. But Kosmala said she informed the law firm about the license before she started work there in April 2016 and even helped her supervisor search for homes for her elderly parents.

Law360 has coverage of the suit, filed in New Jersey state court.

The suit said Kosmala had a “very positive review” in December 2017. After that, she informed her supervisor that she was undergoing fertility treatment. Soon, the supervisor started acting differently toward Kosmala, appearing “annoyed, cold, short, snippy and dismissive,” the suit said.

Kosmala became pregnant in May 2018 and informed her supervisor in August of that year. When Kosmala expressed reluctance to drive to Philadelphia, the supervisor allegedly told Kosmala that “pregnancy is not a disability.”

The supervisor also allegedly said she flew on a plane while seven months pregnant, took a deposition while 8½ months pregnant, and “went into labor at a school event.”

After Kosmala complained about the treatment, she “was given numerous, pressing deadlines for various assignments despite there being no corresponding deadline with the court,” the suit said.

Kosmala requested maternity and parental leave in a November 2018 memo. She was fired before she could begin the leave.

Other Fox Rothschild lawyers and clerical workers owned other businesses and worked at them during business hours, according to the suit. They include a partner who owned and operated a distillery and a staff person who owned an organic product business.

The suit alleges pregnancy discrimination, gender bias, retaliation, violation of the New Jersey Family Leave Act and failure to maintain proper bias training.

Fox Rothschild general counsel Tom Paradise gave a statement on the case to Law360.

“We dispute her allegations, and we are prepared to defend against her claims vigorously,” Paradise said. “She conveniently omits from her complaint that she was terminated for cause when it was discovered she was attempting to deceive her supervisors by asking a colleague to cover for her while she was out selling real estate.”

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