State says Blaine pet store illegally fired new employee after she disclosed pregnancy

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The state of Minnesota reached a settlement Wednesday with a Blaine pet store that fired a new employee shortly after learning she was pregnant.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights said Pet Ranch, which operates the Four Paws and a Tail pet shop in the Northtown Mall in Blaine, violated a state civil rights law that has forbidden pregnancy discrimination since 1977, when it fired Hannah Grell.

“Pet Ranch fired Hannah (Grell) one hour after learning she was pregnant. This was blatant pregnancy discrimination,” said Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Hannah had already collected her uniform and gotten her shifts when she was fired. What should have been a happy start to a new job changed quickly because of discrimination.”

The Department of Human Rights, which investigated the September 2022 firing, said its settlement agreement with Pet Ranch requires it to prevent future workplace discrimination, which the agency will monitor for compliance for three years.

Pet Ranch must also pay Grell $22,000 as part of the settlement.

The case is the second of its kind in the last three months.

In November, the Department of Human Rights announced a settlement with PL Dental in Coon Rapids after the clinic fired Christina Vescio-Holland because of her pregnancy.

In December 2020, PL Dental terminated Vescio-Holland soon after she informed managers that she was pregnant with twins and would need to begin maternity leave earlier than anticipated, based on her doctor’s recommendation.

Instead, she was fired after the clinic claimed performance shortcomings. The state’s investigation found otherwise, and PL Dental was required to pay Vescio-Holland $97,500, equivalent to three years of wages.

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