This newspaper has been a forceful and consistent defender of women who have faced real and pernicious job discrimination because they became pregnant or, in some cases, just because they might become pregnant. Regrettably, it still happens: Women are pulled off assembly lines, taken out of the running for corporate posts, demoted, denied promotions or fired from jobs they can ably perform whether pregnant or not.
Lawyers for actress Hunter Tylo cast her as part of the same aggrieved group: another expectant mother callously shoved out of a job because of her pregnancy. It's tempting to view the nearly $5 million in damages a Los Angeles jury awarded her Monday--close to double what she sought--as just compensation for blatant workplace discrimination. Yet to do so trivializes the federal and state laws that protect pregnant women against employer discrimination.
Tylo's case, which defense lawyers say they will appeal, was a Hollywood contract dispute. Her appearance helped win her a part as a scheming seductress on the TV show "Melrose Place," and the producers dismissed her because her pregnancy evidently violated a clause in her contract that prohibited a "material change" in appearance. Tylo's lawyer, Gloria Allred, skillfully turned the case away from contract issues, fixing it on whether pregnant women can still be beautiful and sexy. Of course they can. At least nine on the 10-woman, two-man jury had no trouble agreeing on that question. But it's entirely beside the point.