Lucasfilm Loses Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Jury awards $113,830 to woman who was fired over pregnancy

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Jul 1, 2010  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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Lucasfilm Loses Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

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George Lucas managed to keep the Lucasfilm company off the hook for punitive damages, as the jury found that the discrimination didn't come from the executive level.

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A Marin County jury handed Lucasfilm a loss in the case of a woman who accused the company of terminating her employment because of a pregnancy.

Julie Gilman Veronese was being considered for a full-time job as an assistant to estate manager Sarita Patel, who manages the grounds of Lucasfilm founder George Lucas's home in San Anselmo.

Patel admitted on the stand that she had asked about Veronese's plans to grow her family during the job interview, which is illegal. Patel also expressed private concerns about hiring a pregnant woman for the job.

Originally, the company had offered Veronese full-time employment after a 30-day probationary period.

After informing the company of her pregnancy, Veronese was told not to come in, and her start date delayed indefinitely. When the company did set a date to start the job, it had changed to a three-week temporary position.

When Veronese expressed concern that the offer had changed because she was pregnant, she was sent a letter the next day to inform her that she was fired.

Defense attorneys tried to portray Veronese as a narcissist and socialite who only wanted the job in order to receive the benefits to cover her pregnancy costs.

The court ordered George Lucas to take the stand as a witness, but Lucas denied knowing of Veronese until the lawsuit was filed.  Defense attorneys credited closing arguments by the plaintiff's counsel for swaying the jury.

Veronese was awarded $113,830 for economic and non-economic losses, with no future awards, and no punitive award. Veronese was represented by husband Joe Alioto Veronese and mother-in-law Angela Alioto, who have estimated legal costs of $600,000.

The Alioto firm is representing another former Lucasfilm employee in an additional employment discrimination case at the company.

Jackson West has no comment.

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