NEW ORLEANS - Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. Federal Judge Janis van Meerveld ruled for the first time that abortion discrimination in employment violates both federal and state law.
The ruling in Nicole Ducharme v. Crescent City Déjà Vu LLC (CCVD) issued May 26 in favor of the plaintiff marked the end of a year-long abortion discrimination case between the bartender and her former employer, the Deja Vu Bar & Grill, which fired her after she had an abortion in September 2017.
Ducharme, represented by the Law Office of William Most and the Rhodes Law Firm, underwent an abortion and was fired less than 48 hours after her procedure. While Ducharme claimed CCVD violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Louisiana Pregnancy Discrimination Act by unlawfully firing her, CCVD ultimately claims she was terminated for drinking on the job.
CCVD challenged the notion that abortion discrimination is illegal under either federal or state law, but Judge van Meerveld disagreed.
"She pointed out that under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate in employment because of 'pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,'" according to a press release from the Law Office of William Most.
Ultimately, Judge van Meerveld found abortion discrimination is barred by federal law since any woman fired because she terminated her pregnancy is, in fact, let go because she was affected by the pregnancy. The judge ruled the same way regarding state law.
"She reasoned that because the Louisiana Pregnancy Discrimination Act 'includes the exact same language as Title VII, it is subject to the same interpretation,'" according to the press release.
After Judge van Meerveld's ruled in the case, the parties reached an undisclosed settlement.
"This case shows that reproductive rights are civil rights, in Louisiana as in every state," David Lanser, Ducharme's lawyer, said in the statement.