Fired While Pregnant – Yes, It Still Happens

Joseph Lepera

Joseph Lepera

A young woman is pregnant. She reports to her employer that per her doctor’s orders she can no longer lift weights of greater than 20 pounds. The following day her employment is terminated and she does not receive her final paycheck.

Does this really still happen? Unfortunately the answer is “yes.” Fortunately for this woman, Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) attorney Joseph Lepera also said “yes” to represent her.

The following is an interview with Lepera about this case, his practice, and his involvement with the LRIS:

Emmy Paskernak (EP): Do the actions of employers, such as the one in the LRIS case you recently settled, surprise you?

Joseph Lepera (JL): Yes. Although these laws have been around over 30 years, employers still make unlawful decisions that negatively affect employees. It’s hard to imagine with the proliferation of media coverage of all kinds of discrimination lawsuits, but that just demonstrates how deep prejudices run.

EP: What intrigued you about this particular case?

JL: I feel strongly about family and, from the moment my client unfolded her story for me, this was a clear-cut case of discrimination. I knew it would be a pleasure to seek justice for her and to “educate” her employer. My goal was to make things right for my client and, hopefully, set a new precedent for her employer that would, in the future, protect others

EP: You have a very eclectic practice covering a wide range of legal areas. Has your practice changed over time?

JL: My firm has evolved over the years to play to our strengths. At present, we perform civil litigation focusing on real estate, business, employment, and personal injury cases. This makes for an interesting variety of clients and cases that keep us engaged and stimulated.

EP: You’re a frequent volunteer for the LRIS sponsored “Call a Lawyer” night on KALW. What do you like about participating in the show?

JL: It’s fun to field such diverse issues for brief advice. The callers always bring interesting dilemmas, and I enjoy the opportunity to consistently give back to the community.

Joseph Lepera is a member of the LRIS Business, Insolvency, General, Labor, Personal Injury, and Real Estate panels and participates in the LRIS Military Assistance Program. He has been in practice for over 14 years and joined LRIS in 2009.

Learn more: In addition to San Francisco, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service is now serving clients and attorneys in Marin County. Marin County attorneys are encouraged to apply to the Marin panels of the San Francisco LRIS. Please contact Yvonne Ng, LRIS Membership Coordinator at, for information on how to become a member of the Marin panels.