U.S. Military Contractors Discriminated Against Employee Based on Her Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
JACKSONVILLE, FL (STL.News) – The Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc. and Sunrise Beach Corporation, doing business as M2 Services Corporation, have agreed to pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Day & Zimmermann and M2 violated federal law by subjecting a pregnant employee to discrimination, forcing her to take an unpaid leave of absence upon learning that she was pregnant, and ultimately firing her because of her pregnancy.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the M2 employee was an aircraft worker cleaner, responsible for cleaning aircraft parts. In January 2016, the employee advised M2 that she was pregnant. Almost immediately thereafter, M2 placed her on an involuntary and unpaid leave of absence, claiming that she needed to obtain medical authorization before returning to work. Even after her medical provider cleared her, M2 refused to allow her to return to work and, in February 2016, M2 fired her, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act adds that Title VII includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on pregnancy and related medical conditions.
In addition to the $125,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides for extensive injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from sex discrimination in all of its forms, and pregnancy discrimination in particular. This includes M2 creating and implementing a pregnancy non-discrimination policy and annual mandatory training for all managers and staff by a subject matter expert approved by the agency. Both the policy and training will address discrimination based on unreasonable notions, assumptions and/or stereotypes about pregnant women. M2 must also post a notice referencing this lawsuit and consent decree, advising employees of their rights. Additionally, M2 will provide a job reference for its former employee.
“This settlement reflects the EEOC’s ongoing commitment to protecting women against sex and pregnancy discrimination at work,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District, which includes Jacksonville within its jurisdiction. “Employment decisions based on paternalistic notions or stereotypes about pregnancy will not be tolerated.”
Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC’s Miami District, said, “Pregnancy discrimination is simply unacceptable. The EEOC remains steadfast in its mission to eradicate it from the workplace.”
The EEOC’s litigation effort was led by Trial Attorney Robert L. Adler.