Many women in the San Francisco Bay Area see Avon as a company that celebrates female entrepreneurship and empowerment. Nevertheless, two former employees of the company have filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the beauty products manufacturer of pregnancy discrimination. They alleged that Avon discriminated against pregnant women and mothers, including nursing mothers who need to pump breast milk while on the job. The suit cited Avon's own language about women's empowerment and commitment to advancement, noting that women may apply to work at the company due to its branding.
The suit also noted that Avon insists on forced arbitration to handle complaints. Arbitration clauses at various companies have sparked outrage after they have been used to silence people complaining about sexual harassment or workplace discrimination. In addition, the lawsuit noted that Avon's executive team was overwhelmingly male. The suit targets two companies, New Avon and Avon Products. Both firms share common branding despite one being spun off.
One of the women alleges that she was informed of alleged "performance issues" at her workplace only one day after she notified Avon that she was pregnant. She said that while working from home was common at Avon, she was denied permission to do so during her high-risk pregnancy. The other woman said that she was denied accommodations at her job as a microbiologist while pregnant. When she asked to avoid certain tasks due to the potential for harmful chemical exposure while pregnant, she was reportedly denied her requests. Avon denied the allegations and said it was committed to a workplace free of discrimination.
Women workers continue to face discrimination on the job, even at some of the most well-known companies in America. An employment lawyer could help someone facing employment discrimination file complaints and potentially take legal action to seek justice.