On November 21, 2019, Wigdor LLP filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Serena Bhaduri against Gannett Co. Inc, the parent company of USA Today. Also named as Defendants in the lawsuit are Estee Cross and Anna Riddle, two of Ms. Bhaduri’s former supervisors at USA Today. Ms. Bhaduri was a Digital Sales Director at USA Today beginning in October 2017 and quickly became a top performer, the Complaint alleges.
As set forth in the Complaint, Ms. Bhaduri returned from maternity leave in February 2019 after her infant son tragically passed away the month prior. As alleged, after Ms. Bhaduri returned from maternity leave following this tragic loss, Ms. Cross and Ms. Riddle cruelly accused her of having a “negative” attitude that was causing “low morale” among employees. Ms. Cross also began micromanaging Ms. Bhaduri and subjecting her to heightened and unwanted criticism, even though Ms. Bhaduri had quickly reestablished herself as an asset to USA today and began performing on par with or better than her peers, the Complaint alleges.
Moreover, Ms. Cross inexplicably stripped Ms. Bhaduri of many of her high-revenue clients just days before Ms. Bhaduri went on a one-month bereavement leave to which she was entitled in order to grieve her son’s passing; as alleged, these clients were assigned to a newly hired, single male employee with no children.
While on bereavement leave, Ms. Bhaduri learned that she was pregnant again, according to the Complaint. As alleged, on August 13, 2019, just two weeks after disclosing her pregnancy to USA Today, Ms. Bhaduri was fired. Shockingly, Ms. Bhaduri was allegedly told that the termination was based on Ms. Bhaduri’s “negative attitude” which was purportedly contributing to a “toxic” workplace. Ms. Bhaduri was also told that her termination was not related to performance.
Finally, the lawsuit alleges that USA Today fired another high-performing pregnant employee on Ms. Bhaduri’s team just weeks after Ms. Bhaduri was fired.
"Suggesting that Ms. Bhaduri appeared to act more negative, as compared to how she acted before the death of her son, or that this was a problem for supervisors at USA Today is appalling," federal lawsuit filed today against @USATODAY alleges. https://t.co/EUCx0XPdMw
— Douglas Wigdor – Wigdor Law (@WigdorLaw) November 21, 2019
Statement from Jeanne M. Christensen, Partner at Wigdor LLP:
“USA Today’s mission is to ‘serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation.’ What happened to Ms. Bhaduri is the opposite of this stated mission. If USA Today wants to serve as a forum for meaningful discussion, it needs to get its own house in order and right this horrific wrong.”