Maternity Stores Reach Settlement in Pregnancy Discrimination Case

July 27, 2005 ( - Mother's Work Inc., a maternity clothing manufacturer, and a former manager who alleges she was fired because of her pregnancy reached a settlement after lawyers for both sides presented opening arguments on the first day of trial in US District Court in Boston.

Cynthia Papageorge was the district manager for about a dozen of the company’s stores in New England, the Boston Globe reports. Papageorge claims she was fired for being pregnant and a supervisor was fired for refusing to terminate her.

The company, which owns clothing chains such as Mimi Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, has been the target of similar lawsuits, but said the charges by the former manager are untrue, according to the Globe.

The Globe reports that Mark Itzkowitz, Papageorge’s lawyer, said a company vice president and codefendant, Frank Mullay, was revolted by Papageorge’s pregnancy when he came to inspect several of her stores in October 1999, during her 37th week. ”There was a look of horror on his face as she came out to meet him,” he said in his opening argument.

Papageorge said that, during a lunch with Mullay after the inspections, Mullay repeated referred to her pregnancy and stared at her belly and sneakers her doctor ordered her to wear to ease ankle swelling. Jan Dowe, Papageorge’s supervisor, said in her own lawsuit that Mullay directed her to “replace female district managers who were on maternity leave.” She alleges that she was fired when she refused to do so. Dowe has also settled her lawsuit.

The Boston Globe reports that, during his opening statement, company attorney Michael Kraemer said that Papageorge’s and Dowe’s jobs were eliminated as part of corporate restructuring. He also pointed out that Papageorge wrote detailed notes on the lunch meeting immediately afterward and made no mention of harassment.

As part of the settlement, Papageorge and her lawyer are barred from speaking with media or discussing the case. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.