The company co-owned by one of the wealthiest “self-made” women in the country is facing multiple allegations of pregnancy discrimination by former employees. One case is in arbitration now. Other women say they never took legal action, but have told their stories anonymously to Forbes. The magazine also discovered a lawsuit with similar allegations from 2012 when the company was known as Roll Global. All paint a picture of a chief executive who, in one person’s words, “didn’t like pregnant women.”
The business in question is The Wonderful Company, which is known for everything from pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful) to nuts (Wonderful pistachios) to oranges (Halos). It’s owned by Los Angeles native and billionaire Lynda Resnick and her second husband. Resnick, who’s known as a philanthropist and women’s empowerment advocate, started her own advertising agency while she was a single mother.
A former marketing director for the company who is required to use arbitration rather than a lawsuit under her employment contract has accused the company of both pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination. She says she was terminated two years ago while on maternity leave.
She alleges that the company fired her immediately after she exceeded the 12-week leave to which she was entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). She was let go even though she was entitled to 16 weeks under California’s Family Rights Act.
The former employee spoke to Forbes before her case began last month. She alleged the discrimination began before her leave, stating, “All of a sudden, I was blackballed because I chose to have a child. I was . . . scrutinized for everything . . . told that Lynda was very unhappy with me. . . I asked why, and . . . wasn’t offered an explanation.”
The company said in a statement, “We celebrate the creation of families, and proudly stand by our policy of being one of the most family-friendly employers in the country.” It claims that “the employee in question was laid off as part of a much larger reduction in force.”
Pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination can be difficult to prove if an employer hasn’t done or said something egregious. However, if you believe your employer acted illegally, it’s worthwhile to seek legal guidance to determine your options.