Disney Wins in Pregnancy Discrimination Complaint Because Spouses Aren’t Protected By Law
Disney has won in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit from an ex-product designer for Disney Streaming Service (DSS) who claimed he was harassed because of his wife’s pregnancy.
Steven Van Soeren sued DSS in November 2019 after working for Disney from August 2016 through May 2019. He alleged HR ignored his previous complaints about harassment and that he was terminated without cause after taking his two-week paternity leave.
Among complaints, Van Soeren claimed fellow employees had sprayed baby powder at him, brandished a knife at him, and made rude comments about the pregnancy. He was also worried about his computer being hacked, claiming that colleagues referenced things he had only discussed at home or viewed on his home computer.
Disney filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in June, arguing that pregnancy discrimination laws only apply to a pregnant employee. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald later ruled that Van Soeren doesn’t fall under a protected class according to Title VII. Buchwald also cited that Van Soeren was able to take his paternity leave without incident.