The woman was fired from her job just 10 days after she joined because she reportedly hid the fact that she was pregnant.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 1, 2021. It has since been updated.
Jennifer Rodriguez was ecstatic to be hired by the Bendinelli Law Firm, a Denver-based personal injury firm, in January 2017. But, 10 days after she got the job, she was fired for hiding her pregnancy, reports CBS Denver.
Apparently, attorney Julian Bendinelli accused her of hiding her pregnancy during the interview process. But, here's the thing, Rodriguez was 8 months pregnant when she attended the interview, and at that stage, it would have been rather hard to hide her belly.
“We no longer need your services,” they told her, Rodriguez said. The abrupt termination also put an end to her source of income, added KDVR. “Huge sadness. I wasn’t sure what the next step was. Just devastated really,” Rodriguez said.
“I asked for an explanation and he told me because I was dishonest with not revealing I was pregnant within my first interview or my second interview,” says Rodriguez.
“I believe it was obvious I was eight months pregnant and anyone could see it, but I still wanted to be clear about it and put it on the table,” Rodriguez added. Apparently, they took it too far by asking her if she was planning to keep her baby or simply acting as a surrogate. Bendinelli denies those claims.
“She said she was 7 to 8 months pregnant then she said someone here said are you going to keep it? Now think about that, you can’t terminate a pregnancy in the third trimester. It was preposterous,” Bendinelli said.
Once she was terminated, she approached the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed a lawsuit against the law firm. “There are personal choices and each mother is entitled to make that choice, but the problem is when employers make that decision for them,” says EEOC attorney Karl Tetzlaff. “She had the courage to come forward.”
“Rodriguez deserves a ton of credit for coming forward. Because unfortunately, these types of cases are all too common. Not enough people come forward to the EEOC and file charges,” Tetzlaff added.
The lawsuit resulted in a $30,000 payout and an order for the Bendinelli Law Firm to adapt to equal opportunity employee training.
However, when Marco Bendinelli, the head of the law firm, was asked if he regrets his decision to fire Rodriguez, he said: “Based on the consequences I faced, yes. But only based on the consequences. The characterization that we are pregnancy unfavorable is a blatant mischaracterization.”
As for why she was fired, “Job performance … and being less than forthright about her circumstance. I can’t go into details,” added Bendinelli.
Now, Rodriguez says winning her settlement means she got justice and hopes others who feel discriminated against in the workplace will have the courage to come forward.
“I really hope from this situation on that no one gets to experience what I experienced because that was really devastating for me,” Rodriguez said.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Klaus Vedfelt