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NBA Sued by Employee for Gender Discrimination

A female employee who claims the league forced her and two
other women with small children out of their positions has sued the NBA for
gender discrimination
. Brynn Cohn, who worked as a senior account manager for
the past 10 years, claimed the league forced her out because of hostility
towards her childcare responsibilities. Cohn has a two-year-old son.

She claims that while she was on pregnancy leave the NBA
changed her department’s hours to require that employees work into the evening
(until 8pm twice a week), despite there being no reason for late hours
. Cohn
claims she was unable to spend money on alternative childcare, that the
schedule changes forced her to resign from her position. In addition, she claims
she was consistently underpaid and under-promoted due to her gender, pregnancy,
and care giving responsibilities.

Cohn claims that with no daycare centers open during her
newly mandated evening shifts, she was forced to seek alternative childcare
that would have cost thousands of dollars. Unable to meet this expensive, she
claims she was constructively forced out of the company. According to the
complaint, high level managers in the NBA’s Creative Services Department
expressed open hostility towards women with young children, including inquiring
into why mothers who had to work late could not make the same arrangements to
care for their children as employees with pets did when faced with long work

Cohn claims that after expressing concern about the new
policies that required evening work, the Director of the Department informed
her that her choice was to be a mother or to work at the NBA. The Director
noted she understood that the new hours might not be manageable for some
employees, and that they would have to move on as a result. Further
demonstrating the disparate impact of the policies in question, during that
same time the NBA granted remote-work exceptions to male and female employees
without childcare responsibilities, but refused to extend that same treatment
to working mothers.

After the women with children were forced out of
the NBA, the Department resumed its original 9 to 5 work schedule, eliminating
the prior evening work requirement. Cohn also claims that the NBA retaliated against
her fiancé (who was also previously employed by the league) in the form of a
denied promotion after he complained to superiors about how his partner was
being treated. Cohn’s lawsuit claims violations of Title VII and the U.S.
Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as state law claims, and a full range of
damages. It seems this lawsuit proves again that an employer’s needless use of
restrictions on working parents is likely to result in a stiff financial
penalty- especially given the previous hours were acceptable and alternative work
arrangements existed.