Jury Awards $720K to Paralegal, Associate Claiming Pregnancy Bias
A jury has awarded about $720,000 in damages to an associate and paralegal who claimed they were forced out of their New York law firm because of their pregnancies.
Garden City, N.Y., tax law firm Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy will only have to pay about $266,000 if the verdict is upheld because of a punitive damages cap, the firm’s lawyer told the New York Law Journal.
The bulk of the award is for the fired paralegal, Maria Moscarelli, who received $203,838 and $500,000 in punitive damages for her pregnancy discrimination claim, the story says. Former associate Jacquelyn Todaro was awarded only $16,499 on a claim that the firm cut her salary before she left on maternity leave. The Central Islip jury ruled against Todaro on her Title VII pregnancy discrimination claim.
The firm had cut Todaro’s annual pay from more than $102,500 to about $77,000. She quit when she returned from maternity leave. She said she felt forced out of the firm because of the pay cut. The firm’s lawyer, Kevin Fox, had argued that Todaro’s pay was cut because her work ethic had declined and her work product “was going downhill.”
The firm claimed it had laid off Moscarelli in a downsizing.