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California pregnancy discrimination case settled

A 36-year-old woman filed a lawsuit more than four years ago against film giant Lucusfilm Ltd., claiming she was terminated as an assistant to the estate manager at George Lucas's San Anselmo estate because she was pregnant. Attorneys for the company denied her allegations of employment discrimination, claiming she hid her pregnancy until she had a job offer in an effort to be covered by company benefits.

The case went to trial in Marin County in 2010, lasted for three weeks and included testimony from George Lucas. The jury found that the company had committed wrongful termination, pregnancy discrimination and failure to prevent pregnancy discrimination. The jury did reject the 36-year-old woman's claims of failure to accommodate a disability and retaliation. She was awarded $1.2 million in attorney's fees and $113,830 in economic damages.

Lucasfilm filed an appeal based on its claim that the jury was given flawed instructions from the judge. The appellate court agreed with the company and remanded the case back to the Marin Superior Court for a new trial. The 36-year-old woman appealed to the California Supreme Court, but it declined to review the case. A new date for the second trial was set for late January of next year, but it was recently announced that the case had been settled between the parties. Terms of the settlement were not made available and a Lucasfilm spokeswoman declined to comment.

Employment discrimination can come in many forms and employees need to be aware of their rights under law. An attorney with experience in employment law may be able to help an aggrieved individual pursue available forms of redress.

Source: Marin Independent Journal, "Lucasfilm pregnancy discrimination case settles before retrial", Gary Klien, October 29, 2013

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