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Jury to decide whether woman was fired for being pregnant

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of a company on a fired employee’s claim that her employment was terminated because she was pregnant, finding the company’s explanations for her firing were shifting, inconsistent, and/or facially implausible.

Jennifer Hitchcock worked as a client services supervisor for Angel Corps, a non-medical home care agency that performs personal care services for clients. After her supervisor learned Hitchcock was three months pregnant, the supervisor asked if Hitchcock would be “quitting.” She also increased Hitchcock’s workload to include tasks that were normally performed by someone else.

Several weeks later, Hitchcock went to a home of a new client to do an assessment. This appointment had to be rescheduled because Hitchcock was ill on the original date a few days earlier. Hitchcock got an uneasy feeling from the son regarding his 100-year-old mother and when she saw the woman, thought she may be sick or dead. Hitchcock left and told her supervisor, who then called adult protection services, who then instructed them to call emergency personnel. The woman had been dead for several days.

Angel Corps fired her nearly a month later. Reasons given for the termination included that she performed a full admission on an expired client, although she did this at the request of the supervisor; that Hitchcock compromised the health and safety of the client; and she performed a deficient assessment on the potential client, but there was no explanation how the assessment was deficient.  

Hitchcock sued alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Magistrate Judge Roger B. Cosbey granted summary judgment to Angel Corps.

Judge Ann Claire Williams pointed to the four potentially different explanations given for Hitchcock’s firing and how their inconsistency or suspicion create a reasonable inference that they do not reflect the real reason for Hitchcock’s firing.

“Angel Corps’s brief attempts to make sense out of these disparate explanations, but it does so by piling on additional ever-evolving justifications that may cause a reasonable juror to wonder whether Angel Corps can ever get its story straight,” she wrote in Jennifer Hitchcock v. Angel Corps, Inc., 12-3515.

The judges also noted that Hitchcock’s supervisor gave her more work to perform after learning she was pregnant and asked if she was “quitting.” An affidavit from a former co-worker who was pregnant while at Angel Corps said that the supervisor suggested that employee get an abortion when learning she was pregnant.

“In sum, we find that the evidence provides a sufficient basis for a rational jury to conclude that Hitchcock was fired because she was pregnant. Naturally, Angel Corps disputes several of the critical factual assertions made by Hitchcock. We leave it to the jury to decide whom to believe,” Williams wrote.

 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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