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Trenton company to pay $70,000 after firing pregnant worker

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Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the Division on Civil Rights announced Monday that Trane U.S. Inc. in Trenton, a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, has agreed to pay $55,000 to former employee Charnelle Gilliard after wrongfully terminating her employment due to doctor-prescribed medical leave during the final weeks of pregnancy.

Trane also must pay $15,000 to the Division on Civil Rights and implement a number of reforms, including creation of a written policy stating that medical leave for pregnancy will be treated as any other medical condition or disability.

The policy must include eligibility for leave from work without being required to answer additional questions about the pregnancy or showing proof of disability.

Trane’s parent company, Ingersoll Rand, also agreed to revise its anti-discrimination policy to reflect the inclusion of pregnancy as a separate, protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. All management staff and human resources personnel working for Ingersoll Rand operations in New Jersey will attend mandatory training on the revised policy.

Gilliard began working for Trane as an assembler at the company’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturing plant in Trenton in July 2010. She stopped working in May 2012 after being approved by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development for temporary disability benefits due to pregnancy.

After the paperwork was submitted on behalf of Gilliard, a third-party benefits administrator called Gilliard’s pre-natal physician seeking further information regarding her disability leave. The physician confirmed he had advised Gilliard to stop working on May 15 due to her advanced pregnancy.

Gilliard then received a letter informing her that Trane had not received a satisfactory explanation for her unapproved absence from work and would be terminating her employment.

Trane denied allegations of discrimination brought by Gilliard and the Division on Civil Rights, and made no admission of wrongdoing.

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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