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Pregnancy Discrimination Case Alleging Pregnant Worker Put On Involuntary Leave Resolved By EEOC

Pregnant businesswoman

Having represented pregnancy discrimination victims for more than twenty years, our Sumter County, Florida pregnancy discrimination lawyers know that employers often force pregnant employees to take an involuntary leave of absence during their pregnancy. However, as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in UAW v. Johnson Controls, 499 U.S. 187 (1991), the “decision to work while [ ] being pregnant . . . is reserved for each individual women to make for herself” and “pregnant women who are able to work must be permitted to work under the same conditions as other employees.” In this article, our Wildwood, Florida pregnancy discrimination attorneys explain how a recent pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates the protection afforded by the federal employment laws to pregnant employees who are able to perform the essential functions of their job.

In a press release issued on March 5, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree with U.S. Security Associates, Inc. (U.S. Security) to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. On June 14, 2020, the EEOC filed the pregnancy discrimination case, U.S. E.E.O.C v. U.S. Security Associates, Inc., Case No. 2:20-cv-02467, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. In the Consent Decree, which was executed by U.S. District Court Judge Lance M. Africk on March 5, 2021, U.S. Security agreed to pay $110,000 to resolve the pregnancy discrimination case.

Pregnant Employees’ Rights

The EEOC filed the pregnancy discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), on behalf of a former employee of U.S. Security, Terrica Bailey (Bailey). The PDA protects women from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Under the PDA, employers are forbidden from requiring pregnant employees to take a leave of absence so long as they are able to perform the essential duties of the their job. The EEOC claims that U.S. Security discriminated against Bailey because of her pregnancy in violation of the PDA.

Employee Claims Fired Because Of Pregnancy

In February 2017, Bailey began working for U.S. Security as a security guard. Bailey was assigned to work at the main gate at an ExxonMobile worksite in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In June 2017, Bailey informed her male supervisors that she was pregnant. In July 2017, Bailey began having morning sickness due to her pregnancy, which lasted for only a couple of weeks. While she was experiencing morning sickness, Bailey was replaced at ExxonMobile’s main gate by a less experienced, less qualified male employee and reassigned to a more strenuous post. Bailey did not want or request the reassignment.

On her first day at her new assignment in late July 2017, Bailey reported to U.S. Security that she was experiencing a physical strain due to the more strenuous duties associated with her new assignment. U.S. Security instructed her to obtain a doctor’s note regarding any restrictions and need for accommodation she may have, and to request another post. Bailey, who never wanted to leave the main gate, did as she was told to keep her job. On July 30, 2017, Bailey requested to be moved to a less strenuous position, which would have included her previous assignment at the main gate. The request was supported by a doctor’s note.

Pregnant Employee Not Allowed To Work

Instead of returning to her previous position, U.S. Security took Bailey off the schedule entirely in August 2017 and refused to allow her to work in any position. Bailey’s supervisors told her to contact the branch office for reassignment to a different location or work site. Bailey did as she was instructed, but her repeated calls to the local branch manager for U.S. Security were unanswered.

On August 18, 2017, Bailey visited the branch office to inquire in person about returning to work and was told that she “basically quit” her job by submitting her written transfer request and doctor’s note regarding what U.S. Security referred to as “light duty.” Bailey asked what she could do to return to work. U.S. Security told her that she would have to obtain a doctor’s note clearing her to return to work without restriction. That same day, Bailey provided U.S. Security with a note from her doctor stating that she was allowed to work while pregnant with no restrictions.

U.S. Security, according to the EEOC, ignored Bailey’s full medical release, insisted that she requested an “accommodation,” and demanded that she submit a request and documentation for medical leave, or, in the alternative, another “accommodation.” During written and verbal exchanges from September 21, 2017 through October 3, 2017, Bailey repeatedly informed U.S. Security that she did not want leave or any other accommodation because she had been fully released to return to work. Despite her multiple requests, U.S. Security refused to ever permit Bailey to return to work. Instead, U.S. Security fired Bailey on October 11, 2017 for alleged “inactivity.”

Attorneys For Pregnancy Discrimination Victims

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws, including the PDA. In seeking to protect the rights of pregnant employees, the EEOC brings lawsuits on behalf of employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy. In a press release issued by the EEOC on March 5, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC, Rudy Sustaita, explained that “employers must work with, not against, employees who are pregnant.”

Wildwood, FL Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Sumter County, Florida pregnancy discrimination attorneys have fought for the rights of pregnancy discrimination victims for more than two decades. If you been forced to take an involuntary leave of absence from work 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 Wildwood, Florida pregnancy discrimination lawyers. Our employment and labor law attorneys take pregnancy 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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