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Oprah Winfrey’s Network OWN Being Sued For Discrimination

Considering how much Oprah Winfrey helps less fortunate people through her organizations such as, Oprah’s Leadership Academy for Girls, one might be surprised to learn that her network, Own is being sued, following allegations of sex and pregnancy discrimination.

According to the  complaint, Carolyn Hommel was hired in July 2010 as the Senior Director of Scheduling & Acquisitions. During Hommel’s time at OWN she received positive performance feedback and was told she was on track to be a vice president.  But, after she became pregnant in 2011 and had to go on medical leave due to a pregnancy related condition,  Hommel’s boss, Michael Garner, told her that he was subsequently bringing in a temporary employee “to help out in the department” while Hommel was recuperating.   The suit alleges that upon her return to her job she was excluded from various meetings and her colleagues refused to share information and emails with her regarding the status of projects.

Hommel later gave birth to a baby on Feb. 28, 2012, only to find that the following month while on maternity leave, she was allegedly informed by her employers that  she was being laid off due to “restructuring.” While Carolyn was allegedly told she could apply for a new VP position being created, the complaint claims that her 2012 performance review was not nearly as glowing as the previous year’s as it contained “referenced conversations that never happened” and “factual inaccuracies” that consequently disqualified her for the position.  The Vice President of Scheduling position, eventually went to the same temp who filled in for her, who the complaint states was not pregnant and did not suffer from pregnancy-related medical conditions.

Hommel is seeking unspecified damages for sex discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation and willful failure to pay wages upon discharge or termination among other allegations.

According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment is prohibited.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against by your employer, please give my office, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman a call at (877) 449-8898 for a free consultation.