Woman fired after pregnancy announcement secures settlement with Blaine employer

After having a job offer rescinded within one hour of telling her employer she was pregnant, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has secured a settlement against the Blaine company that they say violated her civil rights.

On Jan. 17, MDHR announced a settlement of $22,000 with Pet Ranch, which operates Four Paws and a Tail in Blaine, after finding through an investigation that the company violated Minnesota’s civil rights laws when it fired Hannah Grell after learning that she was pregnant.

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"This was blatant pregnancy discrimination," said MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero in a statement announcing the settlement. "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."

According to the findings of an MDHR investigation, in September 2022, Grell was interviewed by Pet Ranch’s owner for a sales associate position and offered the job, which she accepted. Grell then met with the general manager, who gave her a uniform and assigned her shifts. 

However, Pet Ranch's owner terminated Grell's employment through a voicemail shortly after, with the general manager following up via a text message saying that the company, "decided to go another route." MDHR’s investigation confirmed that Pet Ranch fired Grell because of her pregnancy.

"Filing this case with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights was immensely important to me," said Hannah Grell in a statement announcing the settlement. "It means that in the future, if another woman is put through this, they might not be scared to stand up for themselves and their rights."

Pregnancy discrimination has been illegal in Minnesota since 1977, and can include, "denying temporary reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee or an employer firing or denying a promotion to an employee based on the employee’s pregnancy." In Minnesota, a potential or current employee is not required to tell an employer they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and an employer cannot ask a potential or current employee if they are pregnant or plan to have children.

As part of the settlement agreement, Pet Ranch will be required to create and enforce anti-discrimination and training policies that create inclusive workplaces to prevent future unlawful discrimination. MDHR will monitor the company’s compliance with the agreement for three years.

People who believe they are the victims of workplace discrimination can contact MDHR here.