Equinox, a gym chain, was recently named in a lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination.
The Equinox gym chain recently came under fire in a lawsuit filed by two former female employees over allegations of discrimination. According to the lawsuit, the company “engaged in discriminatory actions after they had children.” The suit was filed by National Account Executive Alison Sadel, 32, and Senior Regional Sales Manager Megan DiDomenico, 34. Both women argue they were “overlooked for promotions because they were mothers.”
The suit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, argues that even though Equinox claims it represents female empowerment, the company “regularly expresses hostility towards would-be moms and moms and communicates the message that you cannot be both a mom and successful at Equinox.” Just what exactly did the two women experience, though? Well, according to Sadel, she began working for the company in 2011. According to her, she began being discriminated against when she was pregnant and was allegedly overlooked for a promotion. That promotion was given to a man while she was “subsequently given less responsibility and pay after returning to work following the birth of her child.” Additionally, she allegedly endured “numerous biased comments during her pregnancy, including one from a director who said, ‘what is with all the Account Executives getting pregnant.’”
On top of that, she was “expected to work overtime to train her replacement before going on maternity leave,” and was “subjected to insensitive comments from a supervisor who asked why she was so insecure and overly sensitive — a stereotype about pregnant women,” according to the suit. Then, when she was about eight and a half months pregnant, she was “reprimanded for wearing trainers to work despite having a condition that made her feet swell.” After filing a discrimination complaint with the company’s HR department that was essentially ignored, she was forced to quit.
In DiDomenico’s case, she began working with Equinox in 2015. According to her, she was first discriminated against when “another staff member told management that it was unacceptable for her to pump breast milk in the office after she returned to work from maternity leave.” Additionally, she was “passed over for promotions to a director position in favor of two women who didn’t have children,” the suit claims. When she asked why she didn’t get the promotion, she was told to “focus on her family.”
To make matters worse, when she asked to be transferred to the Florida office in order to have more help with her children, “the company rejected her request while allowing a male staff member to do the same,” according to court documents. Eventually, the company gave in to her request, though she was “demoted and told by supervisors that her position would be complicated because she was a mother.” The company also allegedly told her that “her new position would only ‘work’ if she was okay not seeing her children.” Even though she filed discrimination complaints, she was forced to leave her position after those complaints were dismissed.
When commenting on the suit, Douglas Lipsky, the lawyer representing Sadel and DiDomenico, said, “When the company learns you are pregnant or a mom, it pulls the chord on your treadmill.”