Lynda Resnick is known as a pioneering female entrepreneur and the co-owner of The Wonderful Company. According to Forbes, she is also the 10th richest self-made woman in the U.S.
The Wonderful Company sells Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, Fiji Water, Halos mandarin oranges and other food and beverage products. Lynda owns the company with her husband, Stewart. Their combined worth is estimated at $5.6 billion.
Former employees accuse Lynda of pregnancy discrimination
Lynda leads the marketing and product division segment of the company. This is the department where the accusations of discrimination surfaced. Of the five employees alleging mistreatment, one is now in private arbitration over the discrimination claims.
Woman alleges she was fired wrongfully
The former marketing director alleged she was let go when on maternity leave in 2016. After giving birth, she planned to take 16 weeks of leave. However, she was fired exactly 12 weeks after starting her leave. The woman stated this is a violation under the California Family Rights Act, which covers up to 16 weeks of time off.
Her work was questioned as the birth drew closer
She also claimed as the birth neared, her work was routinely called into question at the company. She was informed Lynda was unhappy with her, but she was not given a reason why. The former employee also alleged witnessing backlash against other employees that took maternity leave over the years. Even though these employees took leave within the legal limits.
Her employment contract prohibited her from filing a lawsuit. It also required arbitration for these accusations.
Another employee filed a wrongful termination suit in 2012
The Wonderful Company has faced these allegations before. When the company was known as Roll Global, a former web designer filed a lawsuit claiming she was wrongfully fired after she returned from maternity leave. The reason she was given was there was not enough work, which the former employer knew was not true.
That suit was settled in 2013, though the settlement remains unknown. The Wonderful Company declined to comment on the case.
Pregnant employees can take 16 weeks of leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act entitles employees to 12 weeks of leave after a child is born. The state of California also allows additional time off for employees that give birth. Any employer with five or more employers is covered under California’s pregnancy disability law. This law states an employee can take up to four months off after giving birth.
After granting pregnancy leave, an employer is required to give the worker back the same job or a comparable position. Any violation of these laws is illegal and opens employers to civil lawsuits.