Disney's Defeat of Pregnancy Discrimination Suit Confirmed on Appeal

The studio convinced the appellate court a former employee wasn't promoted because she wasn't qualified, not because she got pregnant.
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Disney has again defeated a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee after a California appeals court on Thursday affirmed a May 2017 summary judgment ruling in the studio's favor. 

Elin Abad in December 2015 sued Disney and ABC, claiming she faced discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of her pregnancy. 

Abad was hired into the creative content group in 2012, and there's no dispute that she did her original job well. Things began to break down in November 2014, when Abad felt she deserved a promotion. The next month, she announced she was pregnant and planned to take maternity leave in the spring. Then Abad says her relationship became distant with her supervisor, Marissa Messier, who started making negative comments about working parents. A creative content director position opened up while Abad was on maternity leave. She applied, but Messier didn't feel she was ready. Abad ultimately resigned a few days before her leave was scheduled to end, feeling like she was passed over for the director job and roles in other departments because of her pregnancy. Disney, meanwhile, said she simply wasn't qualified.

Judge Ernest Hiroshige granted Disney's motion for summary judgment, finding Arad failed to sufficiently plead her case and, even if she had, Disney offered a legitimate reason for not promoting her: her lack of qualification. He also noted that the person who ultimately got the job was a woman.

A California appeals court on Thursday affirmed the ruling. 

"The evidence does not support a finding that Abad was constructively discharged, that Abad was qualified for the position she sought, that Disney acted with a discriminatory motive, or that any adverse employment actions were connected to protected activity," writes Associate Justice Audrey B. Collins. 

The court denied Disney's request for attorneys' fees, finding Abad's arguments weren't "so unreasonable" that they warrant a fee award. The full opinion is below.