Law Firms

Pregnancy complications led to Latham firing secretary, suit says

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A former legal secretary at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., claims in a federal lawsuit that the firm subjected her to “outrageous, misogynistic attitude, behavior, and treatment of a woman that shocks the conscience.”

The $11 million suit by Demetria Peart claims the law firm fired her in January 2008 because she took disability leave to deal with complications from her pregnancy, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. Above the Law notes the story.

Peart says she was instructed to remain in bed because of a torn placenta, but the firm’s human relations manager discounted the diagnosis. The suit (PDF) alleges that the human resources manager fired her in a phone conversation in which he said Peart’s pregnancy complications were not his problem. When Peart reached out to others, the suit says, she learned the manager had told others she was fired because of a “damn 13 weeks for morning sickness.”

The firm had claimed Peart was fired for “lack of communication,” but the assertion was “a complete fabrication,” the suit alleges. Because the firm claimed Peart was fired for cause, she has been unable to find a new job, the suit says. She is seeking at least $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Peart is represented by Jonathan Dailey. He told The BLT that he used the word “misogynistic” for the first time in a pleading in Peart’s complaint—and he thought it was warranted. Peart is seeking damages for violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The BLT contacted a Latham spokeswoman, who declined to comment.

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