Haeggquist & Eck employment attorneys Alreen Haeggquist and Jenna Rangel are representing a former employee of multi-level marketing nutritional giant Herbalife in an explosive discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination case filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
According to the complaint, plaintiff Alejandra Del Aguila, who had successfully planned and executed large-scale events for Herbalife since 2007, was subjected to a pattern of illegal discrimination and retaliation after revealing her high-risk pregnancy to supervisors in 2016. The complaint alleges the company — which claims its purpose is to “make the world happier and healthier” and to “help bring good nutrition to children in need” – wrongfully terminated Del Aguila after she requested reasonable accommodations for morning sickness and, later, to express breast milk and breastfeed her infant son.
According to the complaint, Del Aguila received unanimously favorable performance reviews prior to her pregnancy. In 2014, she was promoted to the company’s Director of Sales Events and Operations for North America and managed a team of more than a dozen employees responsible for more than 100 events annually. In 2016, Del Aguila discovered she was pregnant, and moreover, that she was high-risk. When she returned to work and informed her supervisors of her condition, the complaint alleges she was immediately subjected to a systemic pattern of discrimination and retaliation, including a flat denial of her request to work remotely due to morning sickness and placing her on an unpaid, unprotected leave of absence instead. The complaint also alleges Herbalife required Del Aguila to travel to two week-long, out-of-state events when her infant son was less than two months old and denied her request to work the events remotely, as she had done prior to her pregnancy, so she could nurse her child during the critical first weeks of his life.
“The irony is certainly rich: a global wellness brand that claims it’s dedicated to promoting health and providing nutrition to young children categorically denied a prized employee the ability to breastfeed her child mere weeks after he was born,” Haeggquist says. “Just as egregiously, Herbalife blatantly ignored the law when Ms. Del Aguila requested reasonable accommodations during her pregnancy. The facts of this case are outrageous, shocking, and disappointing, and we look forward to telling our client’s story in court.”
Del Aguila v. Herbalife is pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court under case number BC689113.