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Family Law Firm Doesn’t Get it, Lawyer Says

DALLAS (CN) - A Dallas family law firm fired an attorney after she became pregnant, the woman claims in court.

Carson E. Steinbauer sued GoransonBain PLLC in Dallas County Court. She claims the firm also passed her over for partner even though she was bringing increased revenue to it.

Steinbauer claims that after she announced her pregnancy to members of the firm in April 2009, founding partner Tom Goranson and partner Beth Maultsby made comments that were "at the very least negative and inappropriate, and stereotypical."

Goranson then asked if she was going to take the Family Law Board Certification exam for that year, Steinbauer says in the complaint. She says she told him that her due date was very close to the October exam date.

"Plaintiff explained that she had every intention of taking the exam but if the baby came early, plaintiff would have to defer taking the exam for a year," the complaint states.

"Goranson then became exasperated and said, 'you had to go and get pregnant,' which both shocked and offended the plaintiff."

Steinbauer says that from that point on, and especially after she returned from maternity leave in 2010, Goranson criticized her and showed such blatant disdain for her that she dreaded going to work every day.

She claims it was never made clear if the law firm had a written maternity leave policy, and that she was told she would get 6 weeks paid maternity leave. However, "Comments were made by Tom Goranson such as 'the firm is going to do away with the maternity leave policy,' and 'too many of us were getting pregnant,'" the complaint states.

"Near the later months of the plaintiff's pregnancy Beth Maultsby would make rude and inappropriate comments to plaintiff, noting the plaintiff 'was getting so big,' was 'huge,' and kept remarking that plaintiff 'wasn't going to want to return to work' after the birth of the baby.'"

Steinbauer says that after she returned from leave in February 2010, her collections increased and she asked to be considered for a partnership position. She says she was never given a reason for the denial of promotion and that Maultsby told her "you need to stop worrying about being a partner and just enjoy your baby."

Steinbauer says she was fired in October 2010. She says the pretext was that she had sent an inappropriate email to Goranson. The complaint does not elucidate the nature of the email.

Founded in 1987, GoransonBain has offices in Dallas and Plano.

All four of its female partners were named among the Best Women Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine in 2010, according to the firm's website. It says all six of the firm's partners were named to Texas Monthly's list of Texas Super Lawyers in 2009. Steinbauer seeks actual and punitive damages for gender and pregnancy discrimination and violations of the Texas Labor Code and Texas Human Rights Act. She is represented by W.D. Masterson with Kilgore & Kilgore of Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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