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Should I Keep Work-Related Emails to Prove My Discrimination Claim?

Should I Keep Work-Related Emails to Prove My Discrimination Claim?

Before pursuing a claim for sex or pregnancy discrimination, you need to be careful to maintain any records related to your employment, including the discriminatory acts that led to your illegal termination. Having this paper trail will make it easier for you to prove your case in court as well as preempt any attempts by the employer to try and portray your leaving the company as a “voluntary” act.

Judge Rules Single Email Does Not Justify Dismissing Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

This issue recently came up in an employment discrimination lawsuit pending before a federal judge in upstate New York. The plaintiff, a woman, worked as a nurse for a correctional facility in Livingston County. According to the plaintiff's lawsuit, she had a spotless work history.

Then she became pregnant. After suffering serious pregnancy-related complications, the plaintiff said she requested a change in her work schedule to accommodate her medical situation. The plaintiff said her supervisor responded by telling her, “I don't care if you're bleeding. If you're not at work, you're fired.” The plaintiff further alleged the supervisor doubted she was even pregnant, ostensibly due to the fact the plaintiff was in her early 40s.

After the plaintiff was unable to make a work-shift due to her medical situation, she was fired. The plaintiff subsequently filed a gender and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the correctional facility. The plaintiff also alleged that “other female employees reported hostile treatment” at the hands of the same supervisor.

In response to the lawsuit, the employer filed a motion to dismiss. As part of its motion, the employer produced a “copy of an email” allegedly sent by the plaintiff to the supervisor that “clearly shows that [the plaintiff] voluntarily resigned” and that her decision “had nothing to do with any allegation of discrimination.” The plaintiff replied this email was irrelevant to a motion of dismiss, since it did not form part of her original complaint.

The judge agreed with the plaintiff and denied the motion to dismiss. As the email was “not attached to the complaint” or “incorporated by reference,” it was not a document the Court could “take judicial notice” of at this stage of the litigation. Furthermore, the email itself was “ambiguous,” in that it only said the plaintiff “will be taking a new position” with another employer, but that she was still available to “help out here when I can.” Finally, the plaintiff noted she had no access to this alleged email because “she lost access” to her work-based email account “when she was wrongfully terminated.” Additional discovery could therefore shed light on the accuracy and context of the email.

Get Advice from a New York Sex Discrimination Lawyer

If you are contemplating any kind of employment discrimination claim, it is critical to keep copies of any correspondence between you and your employer. You should also engage a qualified New York employment law attorney who can advise you on the appropriate steps to take when it comes to preserving your paper trail. Contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, today if you have been wrongfully terminated and need immediate legal assistance.

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