Real Estate Investment Firm Fired Three Employees Because of Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charges
CAMDEN, N.J. - Friedman Realty Group, Inc., a real estate investment firm that owns and manages apartment communities, retail shopping centers, and professional office buildings, violated federal law when it fired at least three employees based on pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Brianna Mazzella worked as a leasing agent at Friedman's Prospect Park, Pa., facility and received performance-based salary increases. In mid-March 2013, Mazzella told the regional property manager that she was pregnant. The EEOC charges that thereafter the regional property manager made disparaging comments about pregnancy, including saying that "when women get pregnant they get stupid," and "I would never have kids, it's gross." After learning about Mazzella's pregnancy, the regional property manager also subjected her to unwarranted job scrutiny and unrealistic deadlines or goals. The EEOC says that Friedman terminated Mazzella in August 2013 because of her pregnancy.
Freidman also fired two other women because of their pregnancies. In 2013, Friedman terminated an apartment cleaner who had been employed for almost three years just three days after she disclosed her pregnancy to the company vice president, the EEOC charges. Friedman also terminated a leasing consultant who worked at its Somers Point, N.J., facility in April 2017, three months after she told the vice president and other managers that she was pregnant, according to the suit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Friedman Realty Group, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-07659) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Mazzella and other class members, as well as broad injunctive relief.
"These women were doing a good job, but Friedman fired them when they needed their salaries the most - as they were preparing to support a growing family. That's unjust and against federal law," said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
EEOC District Director Kevin Berry added, "It's bad for society when an employer deprives hard-working women and their families of their livelihood because of pregnancy. The EEOC is here to defend the rights of pregnant workers."
The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.