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Minnesota Department of Human Rights Secures Settlement After Finding Employer Fired Employee Within One Hour of Learning She Was Pregnant

[St. Paul, MN] The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) today announced a settlement agreement with Pet Ranch, which operates Four Paws and a Tail in Blaine, after finding the employer violated Minnesota’s civil rights law when the company fired an employee immediately after learning that she was pregnant.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of another pregnancy discrimination case MDHR announced at the end of 2023.

“Pet Ranch fired Hannah one hour after learning she was pregnant. This was blatant pregnancy discrimination,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Hannah had already collected her uniform and gotten her shifts when she was fired. What should have been a happy start to a new job changed quickly because of discrimination.”

“Filing this case with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights was immensely important to me,” said Hannah Grell. “It means that in the future, if another woman is put through this, they might not be scared to stand up for themselves and their rights.”

Case Facts

MDHR’s investigation found that in September 2022, Pet Ranch’s owner interviewed Hannah Grell for a sales associate position and offered her the job, which Grell accepted. Before leaving the store, Grell met with the general manager who gave her a uniform and assigned her shifts. During this meeting, Grell told the general manager that she was pregnant.

MDHR found that about an hour after accepting the position and receiving her uniform and assigned shifts, Pet Ranch's owner terminated Grell's employment through a voicemail. Then, the general manager followed up with a text message to Grell saying the company "decided to go another route."

MDHR’s investigation confirmed that Pet Ranch fired Grell because of her pregnancy. This violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits pregnancy discrimination.

“In this case, MDHR also found that this employer did not have any anti-discrimination policies in place for pregnant employees. It is important for employers to not only have strong policies -- but enforce those policies,” continued Commissioner Lucero.

Settlement Agreement

MDHR reached a settlement agreement with Pet Ranch that requires the company to take action to prevent future unlawful discrimination. This includes creating and enforcing anti-discrimination policies and training employees on how to create inclusive workplaces.

MDHR will monitor the company’s compliance with the agreement for three years.

Pet Ranch is also required to pay Grell approximately $22,000.

About Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination has been illegal in Minnesota since 1977.

Pregnancy discrimination can include an employer denying a temporary reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee or an employer firing or denying a promotion to an employee based on the employee’s pregnancy.

A potential or current employee is not required to tell an employer that they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Additionally, an employer cannot ask a potential or current employee if they are pregnant or plan to have children.

Report Pregnancy Discrimination

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work because of your pregnancy, contact the Minnesota Department of Human Rights by submitting this online form.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency and is responsible for enforcing the Minnesota Human Rights Act, one of the strongest state civil rights laws in the country.

 

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