Court of Appeals Reverses Employee’s Loss at Trial, Finding Direct Proof of Pregnancy Discrimination

In a big win for employees, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's verdict against Nichols Kaster client Nicole LaPoint, finding that an employer's reasons for rescinding her job offer - (1) that she did not disclose her pregnancy during her job interview, and (2) desired a maternity leave that was too long - amounted to unlawful pregnancy discrimination. The appellate court correctly noted that the case involved "traditional direct" evidence of discrimination, since both of the reasons related to LaPoint's pregnancy. Other "extensive evidence" also existed in the record, wrote the court, showing that the employer discriminated against LaPoint for her pregnancy "in a purposeful, intentional, and overt manner." The court rejected the employer's argument that a heightened, "but for" causation standard applied to LaPoint's claims. Instead, the court reiterated that the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits all employment actions that are "actually motivated" by an illegitimate motive such as pregnancy. It found that LaPoint proved her pregnancy claim as a matter of law, reversing the trial court's verdict against her and remanding her case to determine damages. For more information, check out the Court of Appeals opinion and this MPR article covering it.