Judge approves $450k settlement in airport security worker pregnancy discrimination case
April 2. 2021
For Immediate Release
Apr 2, 2021
SAN MATEO, CA — On Tuesday, March 30, a California judge approved a $450,000 settlement in a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of female employees of Covenant Aviation Security at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), who were allegedly denied reasonable accommodations and forced into premature leave when they became pregnant, in violation of state and federal laws.
Plaintiffs Candice Branner and Shauna Devore, represented by attorneys from Equal Rights Advocates, Valerian Law, and Medina Orthwein LLP, pursued claims on behalf of a class of 41 other women working for Covenant between 2016 and 2018. In addition to the monetary relief for these workers, the settlement will result in significant changes to Covenant’s policies, procedures, and training to ensure equity and accommodation for pregnant workers that will benefit thousands of current and future employees.
“Being a mother is what inspired me to bring this case,” said plaintiff Shauna Devore. “My motive in life as a mother is to come up with ways to make things better and to fight for what I care about the most. Moving forward with this case allowed me to join together with others to do this, which is inspiring.”
The settlement is announced as Congress considers the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a federal bill modeled after California law governing plaintiffs’ claims that could help millions of pregnant workers across the country if passed.
The plaintiffs are examples of the more than 60% of essential workers who are women, disproportionately women of color. Like so many low-paid workers during the pandemic, they suffered the indignity of being called essential—and being required to risk their health and their families’—while not being paid a livable wage or being treated with the dignity all workers deserve.
“I’m so happy that some of the women out there can know their feelings, voices, and experiences have been heard,” said plaintiff Candice Branner. “Thank you to all the women with whom I now share a story… My whole fight I dedicate to my son who gives me the strength to go on, be great, be a voice.”
The following are statements by lawsuit Co-Counsel:
Noreen Farrell, Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates:
“This groundbreaking win for airport security workers working comes as a moment of increased appreciation of frontline workers like them across the country. As the nation emerges from the pandemic, this settlement affirms the importance of equitable policies supporting working families.”
Plaintiff’s Attorney Felicia Medina:
“We are beyond proud of our clients for their bravery and their tenacity. Women should not have to be brave just to exist, work, and raise children. But as class representatives, Ms. Branner and Ms. Devore not only stood up for themselves and their fellow workers; they forced their employer to look at the world from the perspective of those impacted by discrimination. More of this needs to happen in corporate America.”
Jennifer Reisch, counsel for plaintiffs and the class:
“Making workplaces more healthy and equitable for pregnant workers is a win-win-win for pregnant workers, non-pregnant workers, and employers.”
Xinying Valerian, Valerian Law:
“No worker should have to choose between a safe pregnancy and earning a living. We are glad that Covenant entered into this settlement and agreed to certain reforms without prolonged litigation.”