Company Fired Pregnant Worker & Her Husband for Reporting Discrimination
LAS VEGAS-Engineering Documentation Systems, Inc. (EDSI) agreed to pay $70,000 and to implement anti-discrimination measures to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging retaliation, pregnancy and disability discrimination, the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC originally filed suit against the government support services contractor in 2011 in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (EEOC v. Engineering Documentation Systems, Inc., Case No. 3:11-cv-00707). The federal agency alleged that a pregnant technical assistant with a disability was subjected to discrimination and retaliation at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Northern Nevada.
Upon learning of the pregnancy, a management official allegedly made derogatory remarks and denied a request to move the technical assistant's office closer to the restroom to accommodate her severe nausea and vomiting. While out on pregnancy leave, EDSI changed her job description, suddenly requiring that the technical assistant be certified to carry live ammunition and explosives, according to the EEOC. EDSI failed to engage in the interactive process or accommodate the assistant and terminated her while on a leave of absence. EEOC further asserted that her husband, who was employed by EDSI as a lead engineering technician, was demoted and eventually terminated in 2010 after complaining of his wife's treatment and participating in the EEOC's investigation of his wife's case.
Such conduct is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a four-year consent decree requiring EDSI to hire an equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant to create and implement anti-discrimination policies, complaint procedures, a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints, and live, annual EEO training for all management and human resources personnel. Training will be conducted for all employees as well. The $70,000 in monetary relief shall be distributed to both alleged victims, who will also have negative references expunged from their personnel files and EDSI letters of recommendation for future employment. EEOC will monitor both compliance with the agreement and the handling of future EEO complaints.
"Federal law protects pregnant workers who have been denied hire, mistreated or pushed out of their jobs due to their temporary condition," said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes southern Nevada in its jurisdiction. "All employers should implement effective anti-discrimination policies, procedures and training to ensure proper protections for pregnant employees."
"Workplace retaliation, in particular, has become an epidemic, comprising 38% of all EEOC charges filed nationally in 2012 and making up a whopping 47% of all charges filed in the state of Nevada," said Amy Burkholder, local director for the EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office. "Workers have the right to report discrimination and participate in related investigations without reprisal."
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the Commission to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.