Fitness Center Fired Employee Due to Pregnancy Complication, Federal Agency Charges
MODESTO, Calif. - A national personal training company violated federal law when it fired a physical trainer who was taking approved medical leave for complications caused by her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Rosie Nuno was employed by Custom Built Personal Training as an assistant manager assigned to the InShape fitness center on Lloyd Street in Modesto, Calif. (InShape did not employ Nuno and is not implicated in the EEOC's lawsuit.) Nuno properly notified Custom Built managers that she was experiencing complications and that her doctor recommended time off from work, the EEOC said. Nuno provided doctor's notes to management to cover her absences, and the company's own documentation revealed that she had been approved for medical leave. However, Custom Built fired her, claiming the reason was job abandonment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical conditions affected by pregnancy. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Custom Built Personal Training, Civil Action No. 2:14-CV-01005 KJM CKD) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Nuno.
"This employee plainly acted correctly and followed all proper procedures, but Custom Built heedlessly fired her nonetheless," said EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado. "The only 'abandonment' here was this company's abandoning lawful and decent treatment of an employee who happened to be pregnant. As pregnancy discrimination charges continue to escalate, this issue continues to be a priority for the EEOC."
EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said, "This is a working mother's nightmare. Ms. Nuno was fired from the job which she relied on to support herself, her daughter and the new baby on the way. Employers must understand their obligation to ensure that women are not punished for taking approved time off due to pregnancy."
Custom Built Personal Training contracts with health clubs nationwide to run its personal training programs and services. According to the company website, Custom Built "is the largest & fastest growing personal training company in the world" and has partnered with companies such as Gold's Gym, InShape Health Clubs and Max Fitness.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.