Government Services Contractor Discriminated Against Pregnant Employee, then Fired Her and Her Husband for Reporting It
LAS VEGAS—Engineering Documentation Systems, Inc. (EDSI) violated federal law when it subjected a pregnant administrative assistant with disabilities to discrimination and retaliation at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today against the government support services contractor.
According to the EEOC, an EDSI administrative assistant at the Hawthorne Army Depot informed the company that she was pregnant in January 2009. EEOC contends that a management official denied repeated requests to move her office closer to the restroom to accommodate severe nausea and vomiting arising from her high risk pregnancy. As a result of the denial, the administrative assistant—who had to descend two sets of steep stairs to reach the restroom—fell on at least two occasions.
EEOC further asserts that EDSI prevented the administrative assistant’s return to work following a temporary medical leave by changing her job description and requiring that she be certified to carry live ammunition and explosives in order to return to work. The manager also allegedly made derogatory remarks about her pregnancy, and treated males who had short term medical conditions more favorably. Ultimately, EDSI fired the administrative assistant as a form of reprisal. EEOC asserts that her husband, also employed by EDSI as a Lead Engineering Technician, was also retaliated against in that he was demoted from his lead position and eventually terminated after participating in the EEOC’s investigation of his wife’s case.
After attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement failed, the EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (EEOC v. Engineering Documentation Systems, Inc., Case No. 3:11-cv-00707), alleging that the company’s actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In its lawsuit, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the victims, along with changes to company policies and practices intended to prevent future instances of discrimination at EDSI.
“Pregnant workers should not be punished or shut out of jobs simply because of their temporary condition, and we are seeing an unfortunate trend in that area,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes southern Nevada in its jurisdiction. “Also, in spite of Supreme Court decisions which increased protections against retaliation, we continue to see employers push out workers who complain of discrimination as exemplified in this case.”
“Workers have the right to report discrimination on the job—even on behalf of another—without reprisal,” said Lucy Orta, local director for the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office. “Employers who retaliate against workers who exercise this right may be subject to steep liability.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.