Turns out Nasty Gal is not just a serial copycat, the Los Angeles-based fast fashion retailer may be on the hook for illegally firing four pregnant women, as well as one man about to take paternity leave. According to a recent lawsuit, which was filed on March 10th in Los Angeles Superior Court by ex-employee Aimee Concepcion, Nasty Gal terminated her and three other pregnant employees in violation of California state law. In her suit, Concepcion alleges that Nasty Gal systematically and illegally terminates pregnant employees, without offering them the four months of unpaid leave guaranteed for new mothers under California law.
According to her complaint, Concepcion alleges: "Nasty Gal has shown itself a horrible place to work for professional women who become pregnant and where discrimination runs rampant.” And … "Instead of providing [state mandated] pregnancy leave and reinstatement [of employment after such leave], Nasty Gal terminates pregnant employees so that it does not have to deal with what it perceives to be the inconveniences of dealing with pregnant employees (including providing them with maternity leave)."
As reported by our pals over at Jezebel, in December of 2013, Concepcion began working as the sole employee in Nasty Gal’s newly-launched Home Goods section, a position in which she says she earned “stellar reviews” from her supervisor, Camilla Whitman. The suit asserts that Whitman wrote in a performance review that Concepcion was “a model of professional behavior,” adding, “She is starting a department from scratch, which is no easy feat, and she has risen to the challenge.” In early February, she moved from her home in Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where Nasty Gal is based.
Shortly thereafter, Concepcion learned she was pregnant. In meetings with her supervisors, Concepcion asserts that she was told the company didn’t need to provide her with maternity leave, since she would only have been employed for nine months on her due date. The suit says a human resources representative told her she would be given just six weeks off and eight weeks if she had a C-section procedure.
According to the lawsuit, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides 12 weeks of leave within a twelve-month period for childbirth, but in order to be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee “must be either a full-time or part-time employee working in California, have more than 12 months (52 weeks) of service with the employer, [and] have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12-month period before the date the leave begins.” If an employee does not qualify here, she is not out of luck, though. California’s Pregnancy Discrimination Leave Law establishes employers that provide health insurance for employees must provide up to four months of pregnancy disability leave, and the 12-month, 1,250-hour rules don’t apply: “A woman who works for a covered employer is eligible for pregnancy disability leave regardless of the length of time she has worked for the employer. Further, an employee does not have to work full-time in order to be eligible.”
Back to Concepcion. She reportedly informed her supervisors that she planned to resume working after her pregnancy leave, and in June, Nasty Gal approved hiring a temporary replacement for Concepcion. However, in August, she was told that the company was “reassessing their budgets” and she was being terminated, not for any performance-related reasons.
Oh and in case that’s not enough, Concepcion claims that in exchange for paying her through her due date and providing her with healthcare coverage through December 2014, Nasty Gal tried to force her to sign a severance agreement waiving her right to sue them. Concepcion further alleges that she gave birth to her daughter in November, but says Nasty Gal never registered the insurance they promised. As such, Concepcion is seeking unspecified monetary damages for pregnancy discrimination, breach of contract, and wrongful termination, among other things.