U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Plumbing Manufacturer Fired Exec Because of Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA – The Kohler Company, an international manufacturer based in Kohler, Wis., will pay $175,000 to settle a gender and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The agency had charged that Kohler discriminated against a female sales executive at its Atlanta Branch Office, which deals with plumbing products, by firing her due to her gender and her pregnancy. The lawsuit said that showroom executive Rachel Lee was placed on probation, despite her qualifications and performance record, and then fired less than one month prior to her delivery date.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in November 2006 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief of $175,000, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting and postings. In the suit and consent decree, Kohler denied any liability or wrongdoing.
“The EEOC is dedicated to ensuring that employers treat all employees equally, regardless of gender or pregnancy status,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Dawkins of the Atlanta District Office. “We are pleased that Kohler was committed to resolving this matter and taking steps to ensure future compliance with the law.”
According to company information, Kohler sells various goods and services with its major product sales coming from plumbing products. It has 39 different brands and four major business units – Kitchen & Bath, Global Power, Interiors, and Hospitality. Kohler Company is one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States, and has more than 50 manufacturing plants throughout North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Kohler Company has offices all over the world and employs more than 32,000 individuals worldwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.