A bartender is suing her former employer over claims of pregnancy discrimination.
An Oregon bartender is suing The 238 Bar and her boss after she was allegedly moved from the more profitable night shift to the day shift when she told him she was pregnant. When she complained, she was allegedly retaliated against and fired. As a result, she is accusing her boss, Alexander Peluffo, and the bar of unlawful sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation.
The plaintiff is Cory Jo Muse. She has more than 20 years of experience working as a bartender. In response to the allegation, Peluffo said Muse’s claims are nothing more than a “really good fabricated story.” He added:
“She wasn’t very good at what she did…It’s a ridiculous accusation. She’s swinging for the fence.”
However, the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division conducted an investigation into the matter and found “substantial evidence that the bar’s owner engaged in unlawful practices based on Muse’s sex, her pregnancy and in retaliation for Muse’s remark she was going to file a complaint with the state.”
Karen Anderson is a senior investigator in the division. She said the investigation found that “Peluffo specifically intended to discriminate against Muse in reducing her hours and switching her schedule due to her pregnancy.” On top of that, the investigation found Peluffo’s claim that performance prompted Muse’s termination unpersuasive.
It’s important to note that there are federal and state protections in place that prohibit pregnancy discrimination. For example, under state law, “an employer may not discriminate against or fire employees based on their sex or pregnancy status or for reporting or opposing discriminatory workplace practices.” In 2020, Oregon’s Employer Accommodation for Pregnancy Act also made it illegal for “for employers to require a worker who is pregnant to accept an unnecessary accommodation on the job.”
Muse was hired by the bar back in June 2020 and regularly worked between 25 and 28 hours per week. She usually worked the night shift and would sometimes be called in to work additional hours. Then, in August 2020, she informed her employer that she was pregnant, and her boss allegedly asked her if she “intended to have the baby.” When her answer was yes, Peluffo allegedly responded that “he had gotten several women pregnant but made sure they had abortions.”
Two days after telling her boss she was pregnant, she thought she was suffering a miscarriage and “took three days off from work to go to the hospital and recuperate at home.” During that time, she kept Peluffo updated on her health and told him she was still pregnant.
Eventually, Peluffo moved her from night shifts to the less busy morning shift and even cut back her hours “because he thought she’d need to take more time off for pregnancy-related medical appointments that would disrupt her schedule.” After filing complaints and trying to get her night shifts back, she was eventually terminated.
Right away, Muse filed a complaint with the Labor Bureau claiming she was discriminated against and retaliated against. As part of her suit, Muse is seeking unspecified back pay, compensatory damages for lost wages, and punitive damage.