An Italian volleyball player is being sued by her former club for allegedly breaching her contact after she became pregnant.
Lara Lugli, 41, who played for Volley Pordenone, said she felt as though she had done something ‘illicit and malicious’ when she was fired by the amateur club in March 2019 after she told club executives she was expecting a baby.
The former player, who was captain of the team, suffered a miscarriage in April and requested the club pay the £2,140 (€2,500) salary owed to her for the month she had played for Pordenone before she found out she was pregnant.
However the club refused to pay the salary and took the case to court, saying Ms Lugli had failed to tell them she had planned to have a baby when she signed for the club, in order to get a better wage.
Lara Lugli, 41, who played for Volley Pordenone, was fired by the amateur club in March 2019 after she told club executives that she was expecting a baby
Volley Pordenone argued that Ms Lugli’s departure severely damaged the team’s performance, scared off sponsors and affected their finances, a court document she posted on Facebook showed.
‘It is unbelievable that becoming pregnant should be considered unprofessional and criminalised like taking cocaine and testing positive for doping,’ Ms Lugli told daily newspaper la Repubblica on Wednesday.
The former volleyball player also said she had ‘given it everything’ when it came to the sport and felt her club was comparing pregnancy to ‘illicit and malicious conduct’.
She told The Guardian: ‘I’ve been playing volleyball for 25 years and had given it everything – they knew this.
‘They said a 38-year-old woman should have known whether she wanted to have a baby and therefore should have said something.
‘Not only did they call into question my professionalism but they are comparing pregnancy to illicit and malicious conduct – it’s a very serious thing.’
The club refused to pay the salary and took the case to court, saying Ms Lugli had failed to tell them she had planned to have a baby when she signed for the club. (Stock image)
Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, the president of the upper house Senate, called Ms Lugli’s case ‘violence against women’.
Meanwhile Giovanni Malago, head of the Italian National Olympic Committee, expressed his ‘solidarity’ with her.
Volley Pordenone said they had been forced to close their website due to ‘threats and insults’.
‘The immediate termination of our relationship in case of pregnancy was agreed in the contract,’ the club said, adding that they had decided not to demand financial compensation from Ms Lugli even though this was envisaged in the mutually agreed terms.
‘She filed us with an order to pay (the back salary) and we felt betrayed… We did the only possible thing: defending ourselves on the basis of the contract she signed,’ the club said.