U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Mexican Restaurant Violated Federal Law By Requiring Expectant Mothers To Stop Working, Federal Agency Charged
HOUSTON – Taqueria Rodeo de Jalisco, a Houston-based Mexican restaurant, violated federal anti-discrimination laws when its manager told pregnant employees they had to stop working in their last trimester of pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged discrimination lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the restaurant manager told bus person Blanca Esparza that she could not work beyond the seventh month of pregnancy despite the fact that Esparza never complained that she was unable to carry out her duties and her doctor never put any restrictions on her ability to work. Similarly, the manager told a pregnant waitress that she too could not work past the seventh month of her pregnancy. The manager admitted to EEOC investigators that he asked the women to resign, but said it was to look out for their best interests and protect them and their fetuses from injury.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex or pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No., 4:11-cv-03444) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial.
“Federal law protects the right of a woman to remain gainfully employed during her pregnancy,” said Jim Sacher, EEOC regional attorney in Houston. “The Supreme Court has made clear that the decision whether a pregnant woman should work rests with her. She alone, and not the employer, is responsible for making decisions that affect her safety and that of her child.”
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.