U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Louisiana Publishing Company Fires Pregnant Employee Federal Agency Charges
NEW ORLEANS – A Livingston Parish, La., publishing company violated federal law by firing an employee because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Denham Springs Publishing Company, Inc. discharged Jayme Fraught Jones due to her pregnancy instead of allowing her to take maternity leave. Jones began working for Denham Springs Publishing in May 2005 as the special programs coordinator for the Livingston Parish News. In December 2005, Jones became the sales and marketing director for the newly acquired Antiques Gazette. In October 2006, Jones began inquiring about the company’s maternity leave policy because it was unwritten. Despite Jones’ repeated requests for information, her supervisor, Lauren Katz, the sales and marketing director of the Livingston Parish News, refused to tell her what maternity leave was available. Jones approached Publisher Jeff David about the leave.
After David spoke with Katz, Jones was informed that she would have to start traveling more. Jones informed Katz that she needed to speak with her physician about traveling in her third trimester. Jones was discharged as a poor performer. Prior to her requests for maternity leave, Jones had no disciplinary action, she received a salary increase with increased responsibility, and within days of her discharge, she received a large bonus for generating increased revenue. Jones was terminated because she was pregnant and they did not want to provide her with any maternity leave.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 03:10-cv-00614-RET-CN) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination and retaliation, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
“The EEOC is committed to ensuring that pregnant employees are treated fairly in the workplace,” said Keith Hill, field director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office. “A pregnant employee should not be afraid that she will be fired or treated differently simply because she is carrying a child and will soon become a mother with caregiving responsibilities. It is the EEOC’s duty to educate employers on the repercussions of discriminating against pregnant employees. Employers must understand that this agency is committed to its mission to eradicate these abuses from the workplace.”
In 2007, EEOC issued guidance for employers in dealing with Caregivers in the current workplace. Although the federal EEO laws do not prohibit discrimination against caregivers per se, there are circumstances in which discrimination against caregivers might constitute unlawful disparate treatment based on sex which violates Title VII.
EEOC Regional Attorney Jim Sacher said, “There is absolutely no excuse for discrimination against a pregnant employee in the 21st century. As with other sex-based stereotypes, Title VII prohibits an employer from basing an adverse employment decision on stereotypical assumptions about the effect of pregnancy on an employee’s job performance.”
Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to a discriminatory employment practice is encouraged to contact the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, which is located in downtown New Orleans at 1515 Poydras Street. Additional information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
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.