Employer Declared Employee Was a ‘Liability’ Due to Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charges
Awon Phie LLC, doing business as Holiday Inn Express North Padre Island, will pay $30,000 and furnish comprehensive injunctive relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company’s operations manager told an employee that she noticed her stomach, referring to her being pregnant. The company’s operations manager told the employee she was a “liability” because of her pregnancy and fired her, stating that she could not allow a pregnant woman to work for the employer, the EEOC charged.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. The EEOC filed suit against the company (EEOC v. Awon Phie LLC d/b/a Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Case No. 2:21-cv-00012) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, Awon Phie LLC has agreed to injunctive remedies including hiring an external equal employment opportunity consultant; revising its policies and procedures to ensure compliance with federal equal employment opportunity laws and regulations; providing anti-discrimination training, including training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; and posting a notice regarding the consent decree settling the suit. The court will maintain jurisdiction over the case during the decree’s two-year term.
“We are pleased that because of this settlement, Awon Phie LLC will institute policies and provide training so that its management will better recognize and protect the rights of pregnant employees in the workplace going forward,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Esha Rajendran.
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez added, “This case is a reminder that the decision whether a pregnant employee should work rests solely with her. It is the employee, not the employer, who is responsible for making decisions that affect the safety of the employee and her child.”
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