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EEOC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Case Where Supervisor Refused To Train & Fired Pregnant Employee

Pregnant businesswoman

In a press release issued on October 17, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to resolve a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Smiley Dental Walnut, PLLC (Smiley Dental).  On September 25, 2018, the EEOC filed the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Smiley Dental Management Co., LLC and Smiley Dental Walnut, PLLC, Case No. 3:18-cv-02552, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. 

The EEOC brought the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a former employee of Smiley Dental, Jassmin Fernandez (Fernandez), pursuant to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).  The PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, including childbirth and pregnancy-related medical conditions.  The EEOC claims that Smiley Dental violated the PDA by firing Fernandez because of her pregnancy.  In this article, our Gainesville, Florida employment discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Smiley Dental and the Consent Decree.

EEOC Alleges Employee Fired Because Of Pregnancy

On May 6, 2017, Fernandez was hired by Smiley Dental to work as a front desk receptionist at its office in Garland, Texas.  On June 5, 2017, Fernandez informed human resources personnel that she was pregnant and asked about maternity benefits.  Fernandez was instructed by human resources personnel to notify her supervisor that she was pregnant.  On June 9, 2017, Fernandez informed her supervisor that she was pregnant.  When Fernandez told her supervisor of the pregnancy, her supervisor told Fernandez that she would no longer train her because she was going to be absent from work due to her upcoming maternity leave.  The supervisor, according to the EEOC, terminated Fernandez’s employment during this conversation.

Consent Decree Settling Discrimination Lawsuit

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Karen Gren Scholer on October 16, 2019, Smiley Dental agreed to pay Fernandez $20,000 to resolve the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.  In the Consent Decree, Smiley Dental also agreed to provide training to all employees on the federal anti-discrimination laws.  Smiley Dental further agreed to impose discipline against any supervisor, manager, or human resources employee who is found to have engaged in illegal pregnancy discrimination or permitted any such conduct to occur among employees under his or her supervision. 

EEOC Fights Illegal Employment Discrimination

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws forbidding employment discrimination.  In enforcing the federal civil rights laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of pregnancy discrimination.  In a press release issued by the EEOC on October 17, 2019 regarding the case, a trial attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, Meaghan Kuelbs, stated that “it is  important that employers understand that they cannot fire a woman at any stage of her employment simply because she is pregnant and will need maternity leave.”  “Even a new employee,” Ms. Kuelbs added, “should feel comfortable telling her employer that she is pregnant without fear that such a disclosure will cause her to be fired.”  In commenting on the case, an EEOC regional attorney, Robert Canino, explained that “education of employers to move past traditional assumptions about a pregnant employee’s perceived lack of value or productivity is key to preventing situations in which expectant mothers unfairly lose income at a time they may need it most.”

Consultation With Gainesville Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Gainesville, Florida employment discrimination attorneys have almost twenty years of experience representing employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy.  If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination or have questions about your protection against pregnancy discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Gainesville, Florida employment discrimination lawyers.  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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