Louisiana Record

Monday, July 15, 2019

U.S. District Court rules that state law forbids abortion discrimination in workplace


By Angela Underwood | Jul 1, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – A landmark ruling that abortion discrimination by an employer violates both federal and state law simply clarifies what protections women have in the workplace, a New Orleans attorney asserted after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana sided in favor of his client.

U.S. Federal Judge Janis van Meerveld issued her ruling for plaintiff Nicole Ducharme on May 26, ending the yearlong abortion-discrimination case filed against Crescent City Déjà Vu LLC (CCVD). After Ducharme, a former bartender at the Deja Vu Bar & Grill in New Orleans' French Quarter, informed her supervisor that she needed time off to terminate her pregnancy, she was fired within 48 hours of the procedure.

Ducharme, represented by William Most of the Law Office of William Most, claimed CCVD violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Louisiana Pregnancy Discrimination Act by unlawfully firing her. CCVD challenged the notion that abortion discrimination is illegal under either federal or state law. Van Meerveld agreed with Ducharme.

Attorney William Most | www.nlg.org

"The court made clear that abortion discrimination is also illegal under Louisiana law, which is important because the state law does not have some of the restrictions of the federal law," Most said.

Most and co-counsel David Lanser referred to other courts of appeal that have ruled that abortion is protected by the pregnancy language of Title VII. Van Meerveld 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." 

She found that 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. She ruled the same way regarding state law.

An undisclosed settlement was reached between Ducharme and her former employer.

"We are very glad to have had the opportunity to establish important law while fighting for our client's rights," Most said.

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