Fast-Food Franchisee Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Claim with EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it had reached a settlement agreement in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the owner and operator of a Chick-fil-A franchise. The agency filed suit after a woman complained that the owner refused to hire her because she was pregnant. EEOC v. Charping, No. 1:13-cv-00535, complaint (M.D.N.C., Jul. 2, 2013). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex or gender. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII to include pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. The settlement agreement includes monetary damages payable to the complainant and several forms of injunctive relief.

In early November 2012, the complainant applied for a job at the defendant’s restaurant in Concord, North Carolina. She was six months pregnant at the time. She gave a completed application form to the restaurant’s general manager and was told that someone would contact her. Several days later, she went to the restaurant as a customer and was introduced to the owner by a manager. The owner said that he would pull her application and call her regarding an interview.

The complainant interviewed with the owner on November 16, 2012. She alleged that he asked her a series of questions about her pregnancy, such as her due date, her plans for child care, and how she felt about leaving her first child to return to work. The owner called her on November 19, she alleged, to tell her that they would not be hiring her, but that she should call them after the baby was born and she had arranged child care.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the complainant in July 2013. It accused the defendant of unlawfully discriminating against the complainant based on sex, specifically by refusing to hire her because of her pregnancy in violation of Title VII. 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-2(a)(1). It further alleged that the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously, and/or with reckless indifference to the complainant’s legal rights. The EEOC’s complaint demanded back pay and other monetary relief for the complainant, injunctions against further Title VII violations, and changes in company policy.

The judge approved a consent decree settling the matter between the EEOC and the defendant on June 11, 2014. The defendant agreed to pay $10,000 directly to the complainant within 30 days to settle her claims against him. Within 90 days of the date of the court’s order, the defendant must implement a “formal, written anti-discrimination policy” covering an employer’s obligations and employees’ rights regarding pregnancy discrimination under federal law as well as procedures for reporting and investigating employees’ discrimination complaints. Each employee must receive a copy of the policy, and the defendant must post a copy somewhere visible to employees during work hours.

The defendant must provide annual training, within guidelines set by the EEOC, for all employees, supervisors, and managers regarding pregnancy discrimination and other provisions of Title VII. Finally, the defendant must submit periodic compliance reports to the EEOC, and the EEOC may conduct reviews of the defendant’s compliance status, including inspections of the restaurant.

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 practices like discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination. Contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

More Blog Posts:

Retail Worker Files Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit, Claiming Employer Forced Her to Take Unpaid Maternity Leave, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 8, 2014
Appellate Court Holds that Inefficient Accommodations, Impolite Supervisors Do Not Necessarily Support a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 19, 2014
New York City Pregnancy Discrimination Ordinance Helps Woman Get Her Job Back, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 27, 2014

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