U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Moonshine Whiskey Bar Removed Pregnant Bartender From Her Duties, Federal Agency Charged
PHOENIX - The Moonshine Group, LLC, owners of the Moonshine Whiskey Bar in Tempe, Ariz., violated federal law by removing a bartender from her duties after discovering she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Moonshine hired Michelle Viscusi in March 2013 as a bartender. In April 2014, one of the Moonshine Group's managers, Benjamin Levine, asked Viscusi if she was pregnant. After Viscusi confirmed her pregnancy, Levine sought to remove Viscusi from her position as a bartender, EEOC said. After Viscusi and Levine discussed her future with Moonshine Whiskey because of her pregnancy, Levine never again scheduled Viscusi to work. Levine further did not respond to Viscusi's text message seeking work.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees because of their pregnancy. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (EEOC v. Moonshine Group., Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-01618-MHB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress, and punitive damages. EEOC also seeks injunctive relief, including training on Title VII, and other relief to prevent further discriminatory practices.
"Discrimination against pregnant employees is a serious problem and results in women being afforded fewer career opportunities," said EEOC Phoenix regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Women must be allowed to work and start families while remaining in their careers without fearing for their jobs."
EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, "Women are an important part of the workforce and employers must make responsible employment decisions concerning their female employees who are pregnant. Women should not have to choose between having children and keeping their job."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.