Don't get pregnant or you're fired
Can a Florida employer warn employees to not get pregnant?
Well, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this is exactly what an employer recently did, and the EEOC sued the business.
As part of the settlement, the employer agrees to pay $110,000 to at least two former employees who the EEOC alleges were subjected to the discriminatory treatment. In addition to monetary relief, the employer also agreed to retain an external equal employment opportunity monitor who will assist the company in creating, reviewing and revising its policies and practices to ensure compliance with Title VII, including the PDA. The external EEO monitor will also track discrimination complaints and report back to the EEOC for five years! The employer further agreed to distribute the revised policies to all employees and provide anti-discrimination training for both employees and management personnel.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Dash Dream Plant, Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-01395-DAD-EPG) after first concluding that it had cause to believe that an employee’s charge of discrimination against the employer was valid.
According to the lawsuit, the business held staff meetings during which female employees were instructed not to get pregnant and that if a female employee became pregnant, she should consider herself fired. The lawsuit also alleged that female employees were not reinstated or rehired when they attempted to return to work after childbirth.
Florida businesses are reminded that one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
An EEOC spokesperson stated, “[w]e continue to see pregnant women face barriers in the workplace, which in turn contributes to the continuing disparity in pay between men and women.”
Another EEOC spokesperson added, “[e]mployers need to be aware that pregnancy discrimination laws also protect employees after they have given birth. Failing to reinstate an employee after maternity leave and discharging them can be a violation of the law.”
Business owners in Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach often have questions about pregnancy discrimination and EEOC charges of discrimination.
This case reminds Florida employers of the importance of contacting competent labor counsel before terminating a pregnant employee. If you need assistance in such a situation, contact the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. or call us at 1-772-465-5111.
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