AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine mother of four who says her employer turned her down for a promotion because of her family responsibilities can bring her claim to trial, a federal appeals court has ruled.
Laurie Chadwick had sued her employer, Anthem Health Plans of Maine and Wellpoint, saying she was denied a promotion after being told that with four children, including 6-year-old triplets, she would have “too much on her plate.”
A federal court in Maine ruled that Chadwick had no case, but that decision was reversed by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which ordered a trial in the case.
Chadwick said she had worked at Anthem for nine years, had received positive performance reviews, was encouraged to apply for a promotion to team leader but was turned down in favor of a less qualified applicant.
David Webbert, an Augusta-based civil rights lawyer, said the case was the first in Maine to raise as an issue of sex discrimination the stereotype that women with young children often let family issues interfere with their work.
While the case works its way through the courts, the issue also is getting heard in the state Legislature. The Maine Women’s Lobby is promoting a bill that would add “family caregiver” to types of people protected under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Anthem spokesman Chris Dugan said the company was “certainly disappointed in the court’s decision in this matter, and we strongly believe that she was not subject to any discrimination.”
Chadwick issued a statement through her lawyer: “It was very demoralizing to be told that my promotion was denied because of my ‘kids’ even though I had been very loyal to my job and earned the promotion based on my performance.”