Retailer Harassed and Terminated Pregnant Employees, Federal Agency Charged
ALLENTOWN, Pa. – dELiA*s Inc., a specialty retailer primarily targeting teenage girls and young women, has agreed to pay $75,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that after two employees at dELiA*s store in Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall, Pa., told company managers about their respective pregnancies, company officials subjected them to pregnancy harassment, including repeatedly questioning their ability to do their jobs. Nicole Young, a fashion representative, was terminated in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination and Mallory Martin, a co-manager, was forced to take early maternity leave due to the harassment even though she was able to continue working, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action No. 5:11-cv-05979) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $75,000 in compensatory damages, the two and one-half year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins dELiA*s from further engaging in pregnancy discrimination or retaliation. The company must provide training to all supervisors, managers and hiring officials in the company’s Mid-Atlantic District on Title VII’s prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination and retaliation and revise its employee handbook to provide that the company will not again discriminate based on pregnancy. The company will report to EEOC about how it addressed any complaints of pregnancy discrimination or retaliation during the duration of the consent decree and post a notice at all stores in its Mid-Atlantic District about the settlement.
“The EEOC is committed to vindicating the rights of women who have been unlawfully denied the right to earn a living because of pregnancy,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and that dELiA*s agreed to a variety of corrective measures designed to prevent future problems in the workplace.”
According to its website, http://store.delias.com, dELiA*s, has more than 100 stores in 33 states, including five in Pennsylvania.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.