U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo sdipla.org
SAN DIEGO – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California agreed with P.C. Iron Inc.’s contention that most claims filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a former employee who was allegedly fired because of her pregnancy were time-barred, according to an order filed May 1.
The order said Elsa Perez was employed by P.C. Iron Inc. as an assistant office manager from 2003 to 2011.
“In February 2011, Perez became pregnant,” the order said. “According to Perez and (EEOC), PCI’s chief executive officer Jerry Anderson and office manager Marlene Suits subjected her to a hostile work environment on the basis of her pregnancy.”
Specifically, the plaintiffs said Suits told Perez while she was pregnant that she shouldn’t have any more children and that she was lying about a pregnancy-related medical issue and she tried to impose restrictions on her maternity leave, saying, according to the order, “why would [she] need that much time if all [she] d[id] was sit on her butt all day and don’t do nothing.”
The order said Perez’s maternity leave began on Sept. 29, 2011. She was scheduled to return to work in December 2011. However, Suits allegedly later told her not to bother returning to work because Suits preferred the temporary worker who had been filling in for Perez during her leave.
After Perez filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC on Aug. 24, 2012, the order said the commission issued a letter of determination to PCI that stated that the commission found there is reasonable cause to believe that the charging party "was discharged because of her sex (female, pregnancy) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Perez intervened in the EEOC lawsuit on Aug. 1, 2017. In addition to the allegations made by the commission, the order said Perez claimed “(1) discrimination based on pregnancy; (2) sex discrimination; (3) harassment/hostile work environment; (4) failure to prevent discrimination and harassment; (5) wrongful discharge; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
The order provides rulings on four separate motions for summary judgment, including P.C. Iron’s motions for summary judgment on hostile work environment claims filed by EEOC and Perez and Perez’s six state law claims for being time-barred, an EEOC request for summary judgment on 11 of P.C. Iron’s defenses filed in response to the lawsuit and a motion for summary judgment filed by Perez in connection with her wrongful discharge claim.
“Because all of Perez’s state law claims are time-barred, her motion for summary judgment on her wrongful discharge claim is denied,” U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo wrote in her order.
The judge denied the EEOC’s motion for summary judgment in connection with the hostile work environment claims “as moot,” but allowed its claims related to discrimination to proceed.
A status conference is scheduled for Monday, May 14.