A former employee is suing USA Today and its parent company after she was allegedly discriminated against for being pregnant.
A former digital sales director for USA Today filed a lawsuit against the newspaper over allegations of pregnancy discrimination. According to the suit, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, Serena Bhaduri was discriminated and retaliated against when she informed her managers that she was pregnant. Specifically, the suit argues that “USA Today’s parent company Gannett (GCI) as well as sales executives Estee Cross and Anna Riddle interfered with her rights under federal and New York state employment laws and retaliated against her for her decision to exercise those rights.”
What happened, though? Well, according to Bhaduri’s suit, she was terminated in August shortly after telling her managers at USA Today that she was pregnant. The suit alleges that Anna Riddle, one of Bhaduri’s supervisors, said the “termination was based on Ms. Bhaduri’s ‘negative attitude’ which she alleged was contributing to a ‘toxic’ workplace.” Riddle also allegedly asserted that “Bhaduri ‘did not take direction well.’” However, a Human Resources representative later revealed that “Bhaduri’s termination was not related to performance,” according to the lawsuit.
While commenting on the incident, Jeanne Christensen, Bhaduri’s lawyer, said, “She notified them that she was pregnant and within days was terminated. That’s unacceptable. I think what makes this case worse is they did that knowing the background…Apparently, if you get pregnant more than one time in a two-year span that’s a problem.”
According to the suit, Bhaduri was fired shortly after suffering a personal tragedy. It turns out, she gave birth in November 2018 to a son who tragically passed away back in January. As if that devastating loss wasn’t enough to deal with, when she returned to work in February, her direct supervisor Estee Cross allegedly “accused her of contributing to low morale.” Bhaduri reported Cross to Riddle, who merely brushed aside her accusations. Then, in May, Bhaduri “elected to take a one-month bereavement leave for the loss of her child.” It was during that bereavement leave that Bhaduri discovered she was expecting again.
After learning she was again pregnant, the suit states:
“Bhaduri feared that Ms. Cross and Ms. Riddle would discriminate and retaliate against her even more after they heard. As she feared, after they learned about her pregnancy, Ms. Cross and Ms. Riddle ramped up their campaign of discrimination and retaliation against her in an effort to generate pretextual justifications for her eventual firing.”
As a result of her treatment, Bhaduri is seeking damages, including damages for emotional distress.