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EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Alleges Workers Unlawfully Required To Disclose Their Pregnancy

Pregnant woman talking on the phone in the street

Having represented pregnancy discrimination cases for more than two decades, our Citrus County, Florida discrimination lawyers know that employers often target pregnant employees for termination. In some cases, our Inverness, Florida discrimination attorneys have learned, employers will even require pregnant employees to disclose their pregnancy. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida discrimination lawyers explain how a recent pregnancy discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that federal law protects employees when an employer requires them to disclose their pregnancy.

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

In a press release issued on June 3, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Symphony Deerbrook, LLC, d/b/a Symphony of Joliet (SJ). On June 3, 2021, the EEOC filed the pregnancy discrimination case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Symphony Deerbrook, LLC, d/b/a Symphony of Joliet, Case No. 1:21-cv-02978, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Before filing the lawsuit, the EEOC initially endeavored to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily required conciliation process. Unable to resolve the case through conciliation efforts, the EEOC invoked its statutory right to address the alleged unlawful employment practices through federal court litigation.

Legal Protection For Pregnant Employees

The EEOC brought the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), on behalf of a former employee of SJ, Katie Townsend (Townsend). The PDA forbids employers from discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA also mandates that employers are required to treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. This means that employers must treat pregnant employees the same as non-pregnant employees.

Employee Claims Pregnancy Discrimination

SJ owns and operates a nursing home in Joliet, Illinois. The EEOC claims that SJ discriminated against Townsend and other pregnant employees through a broad array of alleged unlawful employment practices. The EEOC contends that SJ required Townsend and other pregnant employees to disclose their pregnancies to SJ while not requiring other, non-pregnant employees to disclose medical conditions. The EEOC further alleges that SJ required Townsend and other pregnant employees to submit to medical examinations to establish that they can work without restrictions while not requiring similar certifications from other, non-pregnant employees. SJ, according to the EEOC, also required pregnant employees to obtain doctors’ notes indicating that they can work without restrictions and suspended them until they obtained the doctors’ notes.

The EEOC also claims that SJ failed to provide pregnant employees with modified job duties provided to other employees similar in their inability to work, including employees who suffered workers’ compensation injuries. In connection with refusing to provide pregnant employees with accommodations provided to other, non-pregnant employees similar in their inability to work, the EEOC contends that SJ terminated pregnant employees who required accommodations and classified them as ineligible for rehire. Finally, the EEOC maintains that SJ terminated Townsend and other pregnant employees by not permitting them to return to work after they gave birth.

Attorneys For Discrimination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States with the obligation under federal law for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In order to preserve and protect the rights of employees under the federal employment laws, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including pregnancy discrimination victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on June 3, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, Gregory Gochanour, explained that “pregnant women are frequently subjected to harmful, paternalistic stereotypes.” “Pregnancy is not a reason for an employer to assume that an employee cannot work,” Mr. Gochanour added, “nor is it a blank check for employers to seek invasive medical information or to subject pregnant employees to less favorable employment conditions than their non-pregnant co-workers.”

Inverness, FL Discrimination Attorneys

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida discrimination lawyers have litigated pregnancy discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than twenty years. If you have been experienced discrimination because of pregnancy or have questions about your rights as a pregnant employee under the federal employment laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida 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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