A Glimpse of the Future — Employees Publicly Airing Employment Grievances

Pregnancy Discrimination” — one of my firm’s practice areas — popped up in my Google Alerts, and the link took me the the YouTube video below. The video is of a visibly pregnant woman, complaining about how she suffered job discrimination at work due to her pregnancy.  People using YouTube videos to vent is nothing new, relatively speaking, but I found this video interesting for a couple of reasons.

First was the fact that it came up so readily in a search. A Google search for “pregnancy discrimination” yields 1,520,000 hits. The video was posted on January 9, 2012, and five days later I was seeing it in my Google Alerts. Thus, employers need to know that even a modest effort as in the case of this video could quickly put a business in a negative light.

The second point of note is how persuasive it is because of the calm manner it was presented.  The woman, who identifies herself only as “Angel”, is not screaming or making outrageous claims; she just sets forth the facts like she is making a closing argument at trial.

In this case, the employer will probably not receive any backlash.  The audio is pretty poor (Angel, the most important part of a video is the AUDIO!), it has fewer than 100 hits at the time I am writing this, and I don’t believe she ever identifies the employer, only her union.  Nonetheless, the video offers a valuable lesson.

An employer always ran the risk that a termination would result in a lawsuit, but could minimize the chances of a successful lawsuit by making certain all laws were followed AND that the termination did not have the appearance of impropriety. That second element is now especially important, because even if the employer can prevail in civil court, it might still be found guilty in the court of public opinion, with a concomitant impact on the bottom line.


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