Government Contractor Settles EEOC’s Pregnancy Discrimination Complaint for $70,000

Walker_lake_munitions_warning.JPGA government support services contractor settled a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a former employee who claimed discrimination based on her pregnancy. EEOC v. EDSI, Inc., No. 3:11-cv-00707, order (D. Nev., Apr. 17, 2013). The company began discriminating against the employee after she disclosed her pregnancy, according to the lawsuit, with actions ranging from derogatory comments to eventual termination. Her husband, also an employee of the company, faced discrimination and retaliation after he complained about the treatment of his wife. The settlement agreement includes $70,000 in damages and new anti-discrimination measures.

The employee worked as an administrative assistant for Engineering Documentation Systems, Inc. (EDSI) at Hawthorne Army Depot, an ammunition storage facility in western Nevada. She notified her employer that she was pregnant in January 2009. It was reportedly a high-risk pregnancy with “severe nausea and vomiting.” The nearest restroom was down two flights of stairs, but she claimed that a manager repeatedly denied her requests to move to an office near restroom. She allegedly fell while descending the stairs at least twice. The manager also allegedly made derogatory remarks about her pregnancy and showed favorable treatment to male employees with medical conditions.

After a short medical leave, the company allegedly altered her job duties to require that she obtain certification “to carry live ammunition and explosives” as a condition of returning to work. She claims that the company eventually fired her “as a form of reprisal.” She filed a claim with the EEOC, but the agency was unable to reach a settlement with EDSI. The woman’s husband also worked for EDSI, and she alleges that he was demoted from his position as Lead Engineering Technician in retaliation for his complaints about how the company treated her and his participation in the EEOC case.

The EEOC filed suit against EDSI in federal court in September 2011 for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment based on several categories, including sex or gender. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII in 1978 to include pregnancy discrimination as a specific form of discrimination based on sex. The lawsuit sought compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, and changes to the company’s anti-discrimination policies.

The parties reached a settlement agreement, and the court signed an order approving it on April 17, 2013. The company agreed to pay $70,000 in damages, to expunge any negative records from both spouses’ personnel files, and to provide them with letters of recommendation. Under a four-year consent decree with the EEOC, the company will hire an equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant to overhaul the company’s policies regarding discrimination and complaints, create a “centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints,” and facilitate training for relevant company personnel. The EEOC will have the authority to monitor the company’s compliance with these terms, as well as future discrimination complaints.

The pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent employees, former employees, and job seekers in the New York City area who have experienced unlawful employment discrimination or retaliation. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

More Blog Posts:

Lawsuit Brings Attention to Unlawful Workplace Pregnancy Discrimination in New York City and Throughout Nation, New York Employment Attorney Blog, December 26, 2013
EEOC Case Brought on Behalf of Pregnant Applicant Reminds Employers in New York and Elsewhere Pregnancy Discrimination is Illegal, New York Employment Attorney Blog, December 4, 2013
Supreme Court Weighs Whether to Hear Pregnancy Discrimination Case that Could Affect Workers’ Rights in New York and Nationwide, New York Employment Attorney Blog, November 19, 2013
Photo credit: By Kelapstick (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

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