One former OWN executive is suing the network for supposedly edging her out of the company once she got pregnant.
Carolyn Hommel is accusing OWN of sex and pregnancy discrimination in a suit she filed with Los Angeles Superior Court. The new mom began her short-lived tenure with the company in July 2010, when she was hired as the senior director of scheduling and acquisitions.
According to court documents, Carolyn initially received glowing performance reviews and was even told that she was on track to becoming a vice president at OWN. However, things drastically changed when she got pregnant nearly a year later in the summer of 2011.
Carolyn had to go on medical leave due to a condition linked to her pregnancy. She was later told by her boss that he’d brought in a temp to "help out in the department" during her absence. Carolyn claims that many of her duties were handed over to the temp as a direct result of her pregnancy.
The suit states that Carolyn was left out of meetings when she returned to work. Not only that, but some of her co-workers refused to give her information and status updates about various projects.
Carolyn gave birth to a baby girl on February 28, 2012, and she found out that she was being laid off while on maternity leave that March. According to higher-ups, the dismissal was due to "restructuring" at the company.
Although she was told that she could apply for a VP position that would be opening up, Carolyn didn’t believe that she ever had a fair shot at the job. Carolyn claims that her 2012 performance review "referenced conversations that never happened" and contained "factual inaccuracies" that ultimately disqualified her from taking on the higher position.
By what many would assume is no small coincidence, the job eventually went to the temp that had been brought in during her medical leave. Carolyn’s complaint stated that her stand-in wasn’t pregnant and therefore didn’t face the same pregnancy related challenges that she had faced.
The former OWN exec is now seeking an unspecified amount in damages for sex discrimination, disability discrimination and willful failure to pay wages upon discharge or termination among other charges.
The network has yet to make comment on the matter.