Lawsuit claims M&M-Mars fired worker over her sexual orientation

Lawsuit claims M&M-Mars fired worker over her sexual orientation

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. — A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against candy maker M&M-Mars, alleging she was fired because she is lesbian.

In the suit filed Feb. 6 in Warren County, N.J. Superior Court, Theresa Kwiecinski contends that she was fired in September 2011 from Mars’ Hackettstown plant after her co-workers learned of her sexual orientation.

Kwiecinski, who worked at the facility for about 10 years, said she noticed a difference in treatment, heralded by a complicated pregnancy, according to the lawsuit.

Kwiecinski alleges that conditions in her work environment deteriorated after a March 2011 week-long work conference in Florida. She said she was accompanied by her partner and their son, and that immediately afterward, she began to experience negativity directed at her in the workplace.

The Express-Times reported that Kwiecinski worked as a commercial manager for external manufacturing, and had received good performance reviews, although according to Kwiecinski’s lawsuit, in 2010, after Mars hired a new supervisor and Kwiecinski started having issues with her pregnancy, she was given reviews of “below expectations.”

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After she was hospitalized a few times and unexpectedly needed to go on maternity leave, she was informed that her mid-year status was again “below expectations” for failing to prepare enough for her leave, according to the complaint.

Following her pregnancy complications and revelation of her sexual orientation, Kwiecinski alleges she was placed on a performance improvement plan that proved impossible, and which culminated in a wrongful termination.

Kwiecinski’s attorney, William Koy Jr. told the Express-Times, “The complaint speaks for itself. My client is very disturbed for how she was treated at Mars, and we look forward to her day in court.”

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