Dental clinic must pay $97K to settle civil rights case

Legal Scales

A Minnesota dental clinic has agreed to pay more than $97,000 to resolve a state civil rights case in which it purportedly unlawfully fired an employee after she told them she was pregnant with twins, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

PL Dental in Coons Rapid, MN, must pay three years’ worth of wages totaling $97,500 to Christina Vescio-Holland, according to a press release dated November 29 for the state's human rights department.

“At a moment when this employee’s economic security was especially important to Christina and her family, Christina’s employer unlawfully fired her because of her pregnancy,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero in the release.

At the end of December 2020, Vescio-Holland informed the dental clinic where she was employed that she was having twins and that her doctor recommended she start parental leave sooner than she expected. A few days later, Vescio-Holland met with the clinic’s officer manager who reportedly fired her due to her pregnancy and told her that it would hire her back after she gave birth and was ready to return to work, according to the release.

Later, PL Dental provided the employee with a termination letter alleging that there were shortcomings with her job performance. The state’s investigation revealed no credible evidence that there were problems with Vescio-Holland’s performance, and, therefore, determined that she was terminated due to her pregnancy.

In addition to paying Vescio-Holland back wages, PL Dental has agreed to take steps, including training employees to create inclusive workplaces, enforcing antidiscrimination policies, and submitting regular reports the state, to prevent unlawful discrimination in the future. The state will monitor the clinic’s compliance for five years, according to the release.

This case highlights the importance of employers having supportive polices for employees who are pregnant, Lucero said. Other pregnant employees need to know they have options if they get fired, Vescio-Holland said.

“Don't give up just because one door closes -- keep fighting," she said.

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