Google wins round in job discrimination lawsuit

A federal judge rules that a lawsuit filed by formerly pregnant worker should go to arbitration, not trial.

A federal judge has ruled that Google and a former worker who sued the company alleging job discrimination and retaliation while she was pregnant with quadruplets should go to arbitration and not trial.

Christina Elwell filed a lawsuit against Google and her boss, Timothy Armstrong, vice president for national sales, last August in U.S. District Court in New York. She alleged she was demoted from her position as national sales director and then fired in June 2004 after she told Armstrong she had medical issues related to her pregnancy that would prevent her from traveling.

Elwell was later rehired but eventually went on disability leave after losing three of the four children with whom she was pregnant, according to court documents.

Google asked the court to rule that the case should go to arbitration rather than a public trial, arguing that Elwell agreed to arbitrate disputes with Google when she signed her employment contract. In a ruling dated Jan. 30, the court determined that the arbitration clause in the employment contract should be followed in the labor dispute.

"Given that plaintiff's claims against Armstrong of intentional interference with contractual or advantageous business relations and intentional infliction of emotional distress are premised on precisely the same facts as her antidiscrimination claims," the court said, "they are likewise covered by the Arbitration Clause. Because Armstrong is Google's employee, the benefit of the Arbitration Clause extends to him as well."

A lawyer for Elwell declined to comment and Elwell could not be reached.

Amy Lambert, Google senior employment counsel, said in a statement: "We are pleased that the judge granted our motion and we look forward to having this matter addressed before an arbitrator. We believe the suit has no merit."

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