Fired workers' pregnancy was not 'perfect look' for P&G: lawsuit

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2016 3:38 PM

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - A former cosmetics saleswoman for Procter & Gamble Co <PG.N> is suing the company, claiming that she was fired after becoming pregnant and being told earlier by a supervisor that "pregnancy is not part of the uniform."

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan on Friday by Tiffany Kantrowitz, who for two years worked at P&G’s Dolce and Gabbana makeup shop inside Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

P&G has a licensing agreement to make and sell Dolce and Gabbana products, according to a company representative who declined to comment on the lawsuit. Neither Dolce and Gabbana nor Saks was named in the lawsuit.

Kantrowitz says she was fired by P&G in February 2015 after asking to be allowed to sit down while dealing with customers because she was pregnant, in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and a similar New York City law.

Instead of accommodating Kantrowitz's request, the lawsuit said, P&G forced her to take breaks that were deducted from the leave time she was entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act. She says she planned to take leave only after her baby was born.

"For (P&G), ever vigilant about the image of its makeup shop sales associates, pregnancy did not comport with the 'perfect look,'" the lawsuit said.

Before she became pregnant, the suit said, Kantrowitz told a supervisor she wanted children and he responded that "pregnancy is not part of the uniform."

When Kantrowitz was fired, the company told her it was because she had taken "tester" items for personal use, according to the lawsuit. But P&G encouraged its cosmetics staff to do so, the suit says, and never warned Kantrowitz against it during her time with the company.

Pregnancy discrimination has been a top issue for groups that focus on employment protections for women, along with pay parity and wage increases in industries that employ disproportionate numbers of women.

The issue received national attention last year, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that United Parcel Service Inc <UPS.N> improperly denied a pregnant driver's request not to lift heavy packages. The court, in a 6-3 decision, said employers must offer legitimate business reasons to deny accommodations to pregnant employees, and cannot simply claim it would be expensive or inconvenient.

The case is Kantrowitz v. The Procter & Gamble Company, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:16-cv-2813.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Steve Orlofsky)