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A former P&G employee is suing the company after being fired while pregnant — a violation of New York City's Human Rights Law on the basis of sex and pregnancy discrimination, she claims in the lawsuit, filed Friday.
The plaintiff, Tiffany Kantrowitz, actually worked at the Dolce & Gabbana makeup counter at Saks Fifth Avenue's Midtown flagship. (P&G Prestige operates the Italian brand's beauty business.) After getting pregnant, she started experiencing nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, and asked for an accommodation to work while sitting down. Kantrowitz says that P&G's HR department was difficult to work with and then denied her request, instead allowing her to take five to ten minute breaks in an employee lounge on another floor — troubling because "the act of walking at the exact time she needed to sit due to dizziness or extreme fatigue was even more onerous than requiring her to stand."
Eventually, the company fired her for having Dolce & Gabbana makeup testers in her possession, though Kantrowitz says many employees kept them in plastic bags at work since they had to wear the products while on the job.
According to the city's Human Rights Law, rejecting reasonable requests for accommodations from pregnant employees counts as unlawful discrimination.
"P&G refused to accommodate Ms. Kantrowitz by allowing her to take intermittent breaks sitting at the counter because it did not want a pregnant woman as the face of the company selling its products," the lawsuit claims. Even more damning: Kantrowitz claims that before she got pregnant, her manager told her, "Pregnancy is not part of the uniform."
Much like the lawsuit the (supposedly) feminist brand Nasty Gal faced over firing a number of pregnant employees, the whole situation is more than a little ironic given that Dolce & Gabbana's fall 2015 show was all about motherhood, with pregnant models and little girls walking the runway in dresses printed with childlike hand drawings.
We've reached out to P&G for comment and will update when we hear back.
Update: A rep for P&G provided the following statement. "Ms. Kantrowitz was terminated for cause following an internal investigation. P&G has been, and continues to be widely respected for our commitment to diversity and inclusion and the many programs we have in place to support working mothers."