Job Offer Withdrawn After Pregnancy Revealed, Suit Charged
MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled, for $450,000, its lawsuit against Johnson International, Inc., a global financial services company owned by the S.C. Johnson family of Racine, Wis. The EEOC suit alleged that the company, now known as Johnson Financial Group, a member of the "Johnson Family of Companies," discriminated against Rae Ann Good by withdrawing a job offer as Executive Vice President after she disclosed that she was pregnant.
Under a Consent Decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Curran on December 27, 2004, Johnson International will pay $450,000 in lost wages to Ms. Good. The company is also ordered not to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, and to report to the EEOC for the next two years concerning female applicants for executive positions.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Ms. Good applied to Johnson Financial Group (which includes Johnson Bank, Johnson Insurance, and Johnson Asset Management) in Racine, Wisc., for a position as Executive Vice President in April 2002. After a number of interviews and reference checks, she was offered a written employment offer, which she accepted. She then disclosed that she had recently learned that she was pregnant. The job start date was then postponed and eventually canceled, the EEOC says.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), race, color, religion, or national origin, and protects employees from retaliation for complaints based on those issues.
Chester V. Bailey, Director of the EEOC's Milwaukee District Office, noted, "The problem of women advancing into top executive positions is an ongoing concern of the EEOC. Certainly one of the factors which may contribute to the low numbers of women in such jobs is pregnancy discrimination, which we are committed to combating."
Jean P. Kamp, Regional Attorney for the Milwaukee District Office, added that Ms. Good's pregnancy was irrelevant to her ability to perform the job. "All workers deserve the freedom to compete and advance as far as their talent and ability will allow without regard to discriminatory barriers," she said.
In addition to enforcing Title VII, the EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects employees over age 40 from discrimination based on age; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits gender-based wage discrimination; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on December 28, 2004.
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