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A former employee of a music streaming service partly owned by rapper Jay-Z can pursue charges the company violated federal and state law when it allegedly fired her after she asked for a private place to express breast milk.
Lisette Paulson began working as part-time consultant to Tidal, a New York-based music streaming company, in February 2015, according to Monday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in New York in Lisette Paulson v. Tidal, Roc Nation, Desiree Perez, Joseph Borrino and Does 1-10. Tidal is partly owned by Shawn Carter, whose stage name is Jay-Z.
About two months later, and a few weeks before she gave birth, Ms. Paulson was asked to return as a full-time employee after her maternity leave.
In September 2015, several days after she returned to work, Tidal’s chief operating office, Ms. Perez, discussed with Ms. Paulson areas where Ms. Paulson she could express her breast milk.
Ms. Paulson asked for a private area, but Ms. Perez told her to use a bathroom. When Ms. Paulson responded a bathroom would not be feasible, Ms. Perez “pressed” the plaintiff and asked her “if she had to do this,” according to the ruling.
Ms. Paulson answered affirmatively, and Ms. Perez concluded the conversation by saying she “needed to speak to human resources and figure it out.” Ms. Paulson was terminated the next day.
Ms. Paulson filed suit on charges including sex and pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state law. The defendants moved to dismiss the charges, which the court denied.
“The close temporal relationship between (i) Paulson’s efforts to secure appropriate accommodations to express breast milk (ii) Tidal’s negative reaction to these efforts and (iii) Plaintiff’s termination from Tidal, viewed together, give rise to an inference of discrimination,” said the ruling.
The court did agree to dismiss other charges in the case, including an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, stating Ms. Paulson had not alleged conduct that was “extreme and outrageous.”
The case was referred to a magistrate judge for pretrial management.
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