By Jesse Dungan
February 18, 2011
A 33-year-old Union City woman has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the company that manages the Stanford Shopping Center, alleging she was fired without cause just days before she was slated to return to work.
Angelina Duran is seeking an unspecified amount of money in her suit against Simon Property Group, an Indiana-based real estate company. The suit alleges the company violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by discriminating against Duran because of her sex and firing her because she was pregnant and took maternity leave.
Stanford Shopping Center General Manager John Benvenuto said the Simon Property Group’s policy is to not comment on ongoing litigation.
Duran, then a marketing administrative assistant for the company, went on approved maternity leave Feb. 24, 2010, and was to return to work June 7, 2010, according to the lawsuit. But five days before her scheduled return, the company notified her that she had been fired and her replacement hired, the suit says.
Her personnel file says she was fired for not returning from maternity leave, according to the suit. Duran argues she sent an e-mail to the company’s human resources department notifying it of her anticipated return date and never received a response.
Her attorney, Kelly Armstrong of the San Francisco-based Armstrong Law Firm, said Duran went on leave under the company’s disability leave policy and took an additional six weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Duran also argues she was praised her first nine months on the job, but her relationship with her boss immediately soured after she announced she was pregnant. The shopping center’s management team created a hostile work environment, the suit alleges.
Armstrong said managers avoided talking to Duran and instead sent her e-mails, even though they sat at nearby desks. Duran’s manager would yell across the room in a “rude and degrading tone of voice,” she added. The suit alleges Duran also was excluded from some marketing department events.
The suit was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Feb. 17.
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