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EEOC Claims Employee Was Unlawfully Fired After Employer Learned That She Was Pregnant

pregnant businesswoman getting ready to go to work

Having represented victims of pregnancy discrimination for nearly twenty years, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys have learned that employers often terminate employees shortly after learning that they are pregnant.  Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), employers are forbidden from discriminating against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  The PDA is violated when an employer terminates an employee because she is pregnant.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Rainbow USA, Inc. (Rainbow USA) pursuant to the PDA.  On September 27, 2018, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, EEOC v. Rainbow USA, Inc., Case No. 2:18-cv-9007, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. 

The EEOC has brought the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against a former employee of Rainbow USA, Shenethiea Brazil (Brazil).  The EEOC claims that Rainbow USA violated the PDA by firing Brazil shortly after learning that she was pregnant.  In this article, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Rainbow USA.

EEOC’S Allegations Of Pregnancy Discrimination

Rainbow USA is a specialty apparel chain.  In 2008, Brazil began working as a sales associate at Rainbow USA’s store in Chalmette, Louisiana.  In 2017, Brazil, who was then working as a junior assistant manager, became pregnant.  In late April 2017, Brazil submitted a doctor’s note to her store manager which indicated that medical restrictions and reasonable accommodations were needed to due to Brazil’s pregnancy.  On May 3, 2017, Rainbow USA’s district manager suspended Brazil indefinitely and informed Brazil that she needed to have the restrictions related to her pregnancy lifted to remain employed or she would be terminated immediately.

On May 3, 2017, the district manager also gave Brazil Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork and asked her to sign it.  Brazil did not sign the FMLA paperwork.  Brazil, according to the EEOC, did not request to go on leave and did not need to go on leave because of her pregnancy.  On May 5, 2017, Rainbow USA provided Brazil with a letter stating that she had been on a leave of absence since May 3, 2017, that she was ineligible for FMLA leave, and that the company was actively seeking a replacement for her position.  The letter further stated that if Brazil was unable to return to work before a replacement was found, the company would consider her application for rehire.

The EEOC claims that Rainbow USA violated the PDA by refusing to accommodate Brazil’s pregnancy and forcing her to take an indefinite unpaid leave of absence from work which she did not request or need.  The EEOC further claims that by placing Brazil on an indefinite unpaid leave of absence from work and not permitting her to report to work, Rainbow USA effectively terminated Brazil’s employment in violation of the PDA.

EEOC Protects Rights Of Pregnant Employees

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws forbidding employment discrimination.  In enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of employment discrimination.  In a press release issued by the EEOC regarding the case, the Regional Attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, Rudy Sustaita, stated that “[t]his lawsuit reminds employers that [the PDA] protects the rights of pregnant workers to be free from discrimination in the workplace.”  A trial attorney for the EEOC, Alexandra Navarre-Davis, added that “the EEOC will continue to work tirelessly towards its mission of eradicating discrimination in the workplace.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have represented employment discrimination victims in hundreds of cases before the EEOC.  If you have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy or have questions about pregnancy discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys.  Our employment and labor law attorneys take employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis.  This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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