Holiday Inn Express North Padre Island to Pay $30,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

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Hey Compliance Warriors!


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.”

Be Audit-Secure™

Do you ever find yourself in a spot where you just need to argue the options for a specific HR dilemma?


How about when Big Boss is pushing back on what you KNOW needs to be done, but they just cannot seem to wrap their brains around the suggestions you are making?


Sometimes you need a good civilized argument session where you can state your case and an unbiased 3rd-party can clap back with the hard questions that you will be required to answer if the issue does not get solved before a claim, charge, or lawsuit is filed against the company and/or the responsible parties within.


When these issues come up: Let’s Argue it Out!


As an EEOC Certified Investigator, I have seen a lot of tough issues that employers really should have researched before making the decision to “do it the way we’ve always done it” OR “not let some employee handbook boss me around”.


How about the time when the accused is your friend or you have some sort of relationship with the person that could cause others to view you as biased during an investigation. Recusing yourself may be the indicated course of action in some cases.


Remember, sometimes even decisions resulting from only the best intentions still pave the road to… well… court! (gotcha!)


I am ready, willing, and able to provide these services at the same rate as my regular telephone or Zoom consultations.




And, don’t forget – I am a credentialed EEO INVESTIGATOR.


So, when you come across issues related to discrimination or harassment and need an unbiased 3rd-party to conduct the investigation please also think of me.


I have been fully trained by EEOC Administrative Judges and other Investigators.


There is no need to dig the hole deeper by trying to do these things on your own when conflicting interests may be in play.


So, next time you want to Argue it Out or pass the investigation on to a professional investigator who has no skin in the game, think of me!



Lisa Smith, SPHR, SHRM – SCP

Certified EEO Investigator (EEOC)

Lead Support and Content Chief – HelpDeskforHR.com

“You cannot be audit-proof, but you can Be Audit-Secure.”

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