U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Moving Company Fired Expectant Employee Based on Unfounded Belief That Job Was Unsafe for Her, Federal Agency Charged
DURHAM, N.C. - DeHaven's Transfer & Storage, Inc., a residential and commercial moving company, has agreed to pay $35,000 and provide significant relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. EEOC had charged in its lawsuit that DeHaven's violated federal law by discriminating against a female employee when it fired her because she was pregnant.
According to EEOC's complaint, around October 2013, DeHaven's hired Heather Centeno as a packer at the DeHaven's Durham facility. Around April 2014, Centeno's crew leader told DeHaven's business manager that Centeno was pregnant. Around May 2014, the business manager told Centeno that pregnant women should not be doing the packer job, saying it was unsafe. In response, Centeno explained that her doctor said it was safe for her to work as a packer. Several weeks later, in June 2014, DeHaven's business manager again expressed concern to Centeno that she should not work while pregnant. The same day, the company owner told Centeno's crew leader that he should not bring Centeno to work any longer because of her size, and stated that she looked terrible. DeHaven's fired Centeno that same day.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits employers from terminating workers because they are pregnant. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. DeHaven's Transfer & Storage, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:15-CV-00768) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Centeno, the company entered into a five-year consent decree requiring it to develop and implement a policy that prohibits pregnancy-based discrimination. The decree further requires the company to conduct preventive annual training on pregnancy discrimination for employees, supervisors and managers on Title VII and its prohibition against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. DeHaven's must also post an employee notice about the lawsuit and on employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as provide periodic reports to EEOC.
"Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem in the American workplace," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The law ensures that a woman cannot be forced to leave her employment because of her pregnancy, or because of her employer's paternalistic notions regarding pregnancy. This settlement serves as a reminder to employers that EEOC will continue to actively pursue cases where an employee is subjected to discriminatory treatment because she is pregnant."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.