Pregnant Nursing Assistants Were Denied Accommodations and Fired, Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc. d/b/a Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center (Scottish Pines), a North Carolina company based in Cary, has agreed to pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Scottish Pines offered transitional duty or other job modifications to accommodate restrictions of employees with work-related injuries or illnesses, but not to employees with pregnancy-related restrictions. EEOC alleged that the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related 50-pound lifting restriction of certified nursing assistant Mary Jacobs, but instead placed her on unpaid leave and terminated her employment when she could not return to work without restrictions. EEOC further alleged that the company refused to accommodate a 20-pound lifting restriction of another pregnant certified nursing assistant, Laketa Watts, and also terminated her employment when she could not return to work without restrictions.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc. d/b/a Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Civil Action No 1:18-cv-00170), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Jacobs and Watts, Scottish Pines entered a 30-month consent decree, which requires it to, among other things, adopt and implement a written policy to treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as non-pregnant persons similar in their ability or inability to work, including providing modified duty. The decree further requires the company to conduct training on pregnancy discrimination for its employees, post EEO notices, and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
"Federal law requires employers to treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees the same as those of non-pregnant employees, including with respect to modified duty policies," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Companies may not violate Title VII when they decide which employees they will and will not accommodate."
One of the national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the Commission to address selected emerging and developing workplace issues. This includes accommodating pregnancy-related limitations.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.