Federal Agency Charged AA Enterprises With Forcing Pregnant Cashiers to Pay Their Own Medical Expenses and Firing Them for Protesting
SAIPAN, CNMI — AA Enterprises, Inc., which operates a chain of gas stations in Saipan, will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, AA Enterprises singled out at least four female non-resident gas station workers, requiring them to pay for their own pregnancy-related medical expenses while paying for the expenses of employees with other medical conditions. The pregnant staffers were threatened with termination if they did not agree to pay for their own medical expenses, and at least two of the women were ultimately fired by the gas station manager within two weeks of reporting the discrimination to the EEOC.
Pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (EEOC v. AA Enterprises, Inc., Case No. CV 10-0024) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The parties entered into a three-year consent decree, requiring AA Enterprises to pay $80,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to the to the affected pregnant staff. In order to prevent future violations, the decree further requires AA Enterprises to implement EEOC-approved anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies and complaint procedures; have annual compliance training for all staff; designate an internal EEO officer; create an internal tracking system to monitor internal discrimination and retaliation complaints; post an EEOC notice on the matter; and report the handling of such complaints to the EEOC.
“Pregnancy discrimination is a continuing problem in the CNMI,” declared Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. “We hope that employers will follow the lead by AA Enterprises in implementing policies and practices needed to ensure the equal treatment of pregnant women in the workplace.”
Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, which directly oversees the territory, said, “Retaliation continues to be an issue in the CNMI. Workers should be encouraged to approach management with their complaints and concerns about discrimination. It is important that employers take seriously their legal obligation to ensure an environment where workers feel free to exercise their civil rights.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.