Department of Human Rights reaches settlement with PL Dental after company fired woman due to her pregnancy

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Wednesday announced that it had reached a settlement with PL Dental in Coon Rapids after finding that the employer violated Minnesota’s civil rights law when it fired a woman because of her pregnancy.

According to MDHR, Christina Vescio-Holland notified PL Dental in December 2020 that she was pregnant with twins and that her doctor recommended she begin her parental leave earlier than originally anticipated.

Days later, PL Dental’s office manager fired Vescio-Holland due to her pregnancy. The office manager said that PL Dental would rehire her after she gave birth and was ready to return to work.

PL Dental later sent Vescio-Holland a termination letter claiming that she had performance shortcomings, but MDHR said that the employer had no credible concerns over her performance. The Department concluded that PL Dental fired Vescio-Holland over her pregnancy, and not due to performance shortcomings.

The settlement agreement requires PL Dental to take action to prevent further discrimination, including training on creating inclusive workplaces, enforcing anti-discrimination policies and submitting reports to MDHR so it can monitor compliance. MDHR said that it will monitor PL Dental’s compliance for five years.

PL Dental must also pay Vescio-Holland $97,500 — approximately three years of wages.

“At a moment when this employee’s economic security was especially important to Christina and her family, Christina’s employer unlawfully fired her because of her pregnancy,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “State law has prohibited pregnancy discrimination for decades and this case is a reminder how critical it is for employers to have supportive policies in place for pregnant employees.”

Pregnancy discrimination has been illegal in Minnesota since 1977, MDHR said. If you believe you have been discriminated against for pregnancy or other reasons, you can report the discrimination here.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to PL Dental for comment and is awaiting a response.