Orchid Grower Fired Several Employees After Childbirth, Federal Agency Charges
FRESNO, Calif. - Dash Dreams Plant, Inc., a grower and wholesale distributer of orchids in Dos Palos, Calif., violated federal law when it fired employees after failing to reinstate or rehire them at the end of their maternity leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, in 2014, female employees were told in staff meetings not to get pregnant, that they have too many children, and the next person to get pregnant should stay home and consider herself fired. EEOC further asserts that pregnant employees were not reinstated or rehired when they attempted to return to work following the birth of their children but were discharged from the company.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Dash Dream Plant, Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-01395-DAD-EPG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC's suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the class, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and address pregnancy discrimination in the future.
"We continue to see pregnant women face barriers in the workplace, which in turn contributes to the continuing disparity in pay between men and women," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes Merced County.
Melissa Barrios, director of EEOC's Fresno office, added, "Employers need to be aware that pregnancy discrimination laws also protect employees after they have given birth. Failing to reinstate an employee after maternity leave and discharging them can be a violation of the law."
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.