It's been a good past few months for George Lucas. Early last month, Disney completed its acquisition of his company Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise for $4.06 billion in cash and stock. And just yesterday it was announced that he will marry his girlfriend of seven years, Mellody Hobson.
Lucas and Lucasfilm also achieved success on the employment discrimination front, as they succeeded in their bid to overturn a $1.27 million pregnancy discrimination judgment against the company.
The case, Veronese v. Lucasfilm Ltd., involved several interesting questions, including the relevance of an employer's expressed concern for a pregnant woman and her unborn child in determining whether an employment decision involving the woman was tainted by illegal pregnancy bias. The lawsuit was brought by a woman whose arrangement to serve as the assistant to the estate manager of the property at which Lucas resides was delayed and then called off because of her pregnancy-related illness, her loss of one of the two twins she was carrying, and concerns raised by health and safety conditions at the estate.
The California Court of Appeal found it was an error for a state trial court to instruct the jury that, "A potential hazard to a fetus or an unborn child is not a defense to pregnancy discrimination." The trial court's sole authority for doing so, it said, was the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls Inc.
But Johnson Controls involved a broad employer policy that extended to any woman who was pregnant or capable of bearing children, while Lucasfilm had no such policy, the court said. Rather, the company made a decision involving the welfare of one pregnant woman who already had miscarried one twin, and the company otherwise provides extensive benefits to pregnant workers, including paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, and 100 percent medical insurance coverage for the entire family.
Accordingly, the appeals court concluded, even if the trial court's jury instruction were "abstractly correct"--since, literally, there is no defense for discrimination when proved--the instruction still was improper. The instruction, the appeals court wrote, "could be interpreted as telling the jury that anypotential hazard to an unborn child is necessarily irrelevant to the employer's legitimate decisionmaking." That would be erroneous, the court ruled, because Johnson Controls acknowledged "that Title VII does not prevent the employer from having a conscience."
Other recent EEO developments include:
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).