An employer required its employees to wear mandatory uniform. Because this employer was a Sports Grill, the uniform consisted of a tight, body-hugging shirt and short hot pants.
Pregnant employee won’t wear uniform. Fire her?
The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, which concluded that the employer violated discrimination laws. The EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court against the employer, claiming that its conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in Case No 3:16-CV-3328, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
When a pregnant employee started wearing capri pants instead of the usual hot pants uniform and added a second layer of clothes to the usual tight top because of her pregnancy, the general manager told her that the owner would not approve, and forced her off the job.
The employer, Off the Air, II, Inc., d/b/a Nick’s Sports Grill recently settled the lawsuit. In addition to paying the bartender $24,000, it also agreed to a three-year consent decree which prohibits future discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it. Also, in addition to the monetary relief for the employee, the decree requires the company to disseminate specific parts of its employee handbook to all employees; provide annual training on pregnancy and other forms of discrimination; report all complaints of discrimination to the EEOC for the next three years; impose discipline up to termination on any manager who discriminates based on sex or permits such conduct to occur under his or her supervision; and post a notice on employee bulletin boards about the decree, explaining procedures for reporting discrimination.
EEOC spokespersons stated, “Even bars and clubs with provocative uniforms cannot discriminate by using the dress code requirement to oust a pregnant employee. When the short, tight outfit no longer worked, [the employee] no longer had a job. She could have continued to work at Nick’s had she not become pregnant. Under civil rights laws, that’s pregnancy discrimination, which is a form of discrimination based on sex.” Also, “Expecting mothers typically need to continue to earn an income as their family grows. This is another example of how myopic views by some employers about the value of women in the workplace operate to limit opportunities to females who are perfectly qualified and able to work.”
The employee made a statement also, “Just because you look different as a pregnant woman, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your job. I want people to know that if you feel you are being discriminated against, you should do something about it.”
This case reminds covered Florida employers to be careful if they are contemplating terminating a pregnant employee.
If your Florida business needs assistance in how to handle pregnant employee, contact an experienced labor and employment lawyer who has handled pregnancy discrimination cases in Florida. It is important to call your discrimination law firm before you take any adverse action against the pregnant employee, so that your legal counsel can assess your situation and assist you in making sure that you are not violating the discrimination laws.
If you need assistance in such a situation, contact the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. by email or call us at 1-772-465-5111.
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