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Woman can't prove pregnancy discrimination

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a stone company after finding a woman couldn't prove the company knew she was pregnant when it decided to relocate her to another office.

In Angela N. LaFary v. Rogers Group Inc., No. 09-1139, Angela LaFary appealed summary judgment granted for her former employer, Rogers Group, on her claims of sex discrimination and retaliation. LaFary alleged the company decided to move her from a Martinsville office to a Bloomington office after it found out she was pregnant and then fired her for taking more than six months of leave due to complications with her pregnancy. She viewed the move as a demotion, although it included a raise and the company saw it as a promotion.

LaFary was hired by RGI in 1996 and worked in the Martinsville office in an administrative position, with some sales support. In 2004, she married an independent contractor who performed trucking jobs for the Martinsville location. She learned March 15, 2004, she was pregnant. On March 25, her supervisor consulted with other employees about relocating LaFary. In April, her supervisor informed her she would be moving to the Bloomington office because they needed administrative support and there appeared to be a conflict of interest arising from her marriage. She was transferred to Bloomington, to which she objected; however, she was there only two months when complications arose in her pregnancy. At the time of her move, her supervisor knew she was pregnant.

There was a dispute as to when her FMLA and short-term disability leave ended, and LaFary was fired in January 2005 based on its leave policy. She wasn't able to apply for another job because of lack of business.

The Circuit judges noted it was a close question whether LaFary's stint in Bloomington provided enough evidence to show the move was adverse, but didn't decide the issue because LaFary couldn't prove her supervisor knew she was pregnant when the transfer was proposed.

LaFary claimed her supervisor knew "shortly" after she found out, but there wasn't any evidence designated to support that claim or define what "shortly" means, wrote Judge Diane P. Wood. The Circuit Court affirmed summary judgment for RGI on LaFary's claim that the transfer was motivated by sex or pregnancy discrimination.

Her evidence also fell short on raising a genuine issue of fact on whether her termination and the decision to not rehire LaFary violated Title VII's prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.

"First, it does not show that RGI violated its own policy by counting FMLA and short-term disability leave concurrently," wrote Judge Wood. "Moreover, LaFary's evidence does not establish that a similarly situated person outside her protected class was treated more favorably."

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