Phila. woman fired from Purolite Corp. because of pregnancy, and who won jury verdict, is awarded back pay

By Jon Campisi | Feb 27, 2013

A Philadelphia woman who had secured a jury verdict in her favor on claims that her

employer, Purolite Corp., fired her because of her pregnancy can now add back pay to her award.

Tracy Blake, who following a three-day jury trial at federal court in Philadelphia last month was awarded $25,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000 in punitive damages, was recently granted $11,000-plus in back pay, in addition to attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

Blake sued her former employer in the fall of 2010 over allegations that she was fired from her receptionist job a year prior after only a few months of employment because of her pregnancy, according to the complaint.

Blake had been employed by the Center for Employment Management, a recruiting and staffing firm, which placed the plaintiff with Purolite Corporation in the second week of August 2009, the record shows.

Purolite, the lawsuit stated, is a leading supplier of specialty resins for the ion exchange, catalyst, absorbents and specialty applications market worldwide, and which has its United States headquarters in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., the location where the plaintiff worked.

Blake, who became pregnant in June 2009, two months prior to her hiring, was let go on Oct. 7, 2009, less than one week after informing Purolite’s management of her pregnancy, the complaint alleged.

The woman was told she was being terminated for “personal reasons,” although the defendant was accused of never having informed the plaintiff what exactly those reasons were.

The record shows that following the trial, which took place from Jan. 14 to 17, the jury found that the plaintiff’s pregnancy was a determinative factor in the defendant’s decision to terminate her employment.

The issue of back pay had been submitted to the jury in an advisory capacity and the jurors ended up issuing an advisory back pay verdict of $16,000, according to a memorandum and order by U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who had been assigned to oversee the case.

Following the jury verdict, both parties submitted memoranda on the back pay issue, and after reviewing the documents, McLaughlin determined that $11,098.12 was a fair back pay judgment.

In her findings of fact, McLaughlin noted that Blake had earned $96.16 per day during her employment with Purolite Corp.

After she was terminated, Blake found employment with Chartwell Law Offices on Oct. 8, 2010.

The parties had stipulated that Blake was not entitled to lost wages for the period of Jan. 18 through July 16, 2010, the memorandum states.

The judge wrote that had Blake continued her employment at Purolite on Oct. 7, 2009, and had she stayed with the company through Oct. 8, 2010, excluding the period of time during which she was not entitled to wages, she would have earned $12,693.12.

Because Blake had worked part-time at another job from Nov. 1 2009 to Jan. 15, 2010, earning a total of $1,595 during that time, the memorandum states, she was only entitled to back pay in the amount of $11,098.12.

The Center for Employment Management Inc., which was the recruiting agency that employed Blake, and had placed her with Purolite, was originally named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but was later dismissed as a party to the litigation, the record shows.

Blake had accused Purolite of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

She was represented by Bensalem, Pa. attorney Ari R. Karpf.

More News

The Record Network