George Lucas is no stranger to controversy and this latest -- that his company discriminated against a pregnant worker -- is just one of many indications that the billionaire director of iconic films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones may not be completely comfortable with women.
The story is this: Julie Gilman Veronese was hired to be an assistant to Lucasfilm (apparently he employs legions of assistants at $75K a pop to get food for him and feed his dogs). She was pregnant with twins, lost one of them, and so started late and was ultimately told not to bother to come to work.
Veronese claims discrimination, but, according to The Bay Citizen: "Sarita Patel, Lucas's estate manager, said she had 'nagging doubts' from the beginning that Veronese, 37, daughter-in-law of San Francisco lawyer Angela Alioto, might be ‘too high society' for a personal assistant position that entailed bringing the film mogul sandwiches and cleaning up after his two Malamutes."
Veronese is suing Lucasfilm, Ltd for $677,000 as well as more for "emotional distress." George Lucas testified for two hours on June 18, saying he did not get involved with hiring temporary help and left most of that to Patel. Veronese knew she was pregnant for about a month before applying for the job with Lucasfilm.
George Lucas has taken flak before for his feelings toward women. Many fans of Star Wars complain that the fact that "the force" is weakened by romantic love speaks to some issues with women on the part of the creator. Additionally, Lucas reportedly waited so long to put out the second trilogy just to keep his ex-wife from receiving any of the profits according to their divorce settlement.
Depending on what you believe, that's either brilliant or obnoxious.
Either way, I'm sure he wishes he could use the force to make this whole thing go away. I have no doubt that pregnancy discrimination is a very real problem in this country. When I was pregnant, I know I got some pretty obnoxious comments from my boss about what I could and could not cover (I was a reporter) "because I was pregnant." I ultimately had to quit because my boss -- a mother herself -- made it impossible for me to have any flexibility to be home with my infant. It was either return full-time or not at all.
I was lucky to have those choices.
So, while I have no idea what's really going on in this lawsuit, I do know that this problem is real and I'm glad this is shedding some light on the issue.
What do you think?
Image via jimivr/Flickr