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Lang v. Star Herald

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
107 F.3d 1308 (8th Cir. 1997)


Facts

Jodee Lang (plaintiff) was an employee of the Star Herald (defendant). In June 1993, Lang experienced bleeding related to her pregnancy. Lang’s doctor advised her not to work until the bleeding stopped and recommended rest for two weeks. Lang informed her supervisor, Scott Walker, that she would be absent due to her pregnancy-related condition. After one week of leave, Walker informed Lang that she had exhausted her accrued sick leave and that if Lang could not return to work, she would be let go. Lang’s doctor recommended that Lang not return to work and was unable to estimate when she would be able to return to work. The Star Herald did not have a short-term disability plan. The Star Herald did, however, have an unpaid leave-of-absence policy. Under this policy, employees who had exhausted their leave were able to apply for an unpaid, indefinite leave of absence. However, the Star Herald did not guarantee reemployment at the end of the leave of absence. Walker advised Lang to apply for an indefinite leave of absence. Lang refused to apply, because the Star Herald would not guarantee reemployment. Consequently, Lang was terminated from employment. Lang subsequently sued the Star Herald under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), claiming that the Star Herald had discriminated against Lang based on her pregnancy by refusing to grant her an indefinite leave of absence with a guarantee of reemployment. Lang brought her claim under both disparate-treatment and disparate-impact theories. The evidence showed that no other employee was granted an indefinite leave of absence with a guarantee of reemployment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Star Herald. Lang appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hansen, J.)

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