Company Forced Pregnant Employee to Take Unpaid Leave of Absence, Then Fired Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Kenan Transport, LLC, a Delaware trucking company that operates a terminal in Spartanburg, S.C., will pay $27,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged in its lawsuit that Kenan Transport violated federal law by discriminating against a female employee because she was pregnant and by retaliating against her because she made complaints about pregnancy discrimination.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Jessica Williams worked at Kenan Transport's Spartanburg trucking terminal as a billing clerk. On Feb. 23, 2012, at seven and one-half months into her pregnancy, Williams had premature labor, which her doctor was able to stop. The EEOC alleged that when Williams notified the terminal manager that her doctor had excused her from work for a few days, the terminal manager told Williams she would not be allowed to return to work until after the birth of her baby, and Williams was placed on leave. The suit further charged that Williams complained to the company that she was being forced to go out on leave because of her pregnancy and indicated intent to file a pregnancy discrimination charge. The EEOC said that Kenan fired Williams because of her pregnancy and/or in retaliation for her complaints about discrimination. Ultimately, Williams gave birth to her child on March 15, 2012.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Kenan Transport, LLC, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division, Civil Action No. 7:13-CV-02661-GRA-KFM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary damages, the settlement requires Kenan Transport to revise its anti-discrimination policy, which will be distributed to all employees. The company must also provide annual training to all of its managers, supervisors and employees at its Spartanburg terminal on Title VII and its prohibition against pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Kenan Transport 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 the EEOC.
"Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem in the American workplace," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the 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. The EEOC will continue to actively pursue cases where an employee is subjected to discriminatory treatment because she is pregnant."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.