It is almost hard to imagine that an employer in 2017, would tell their female employees that if they get pregnant they will be fired. But that is what an orchid grower in California did, and the EEOC filed a lawsuit in response. As a result, the employer is required to pay $110,000 along with other relief in order to settle the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
Staff meetings to warn female employees
The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that Dash Dream Plant, Inc., a company which grows orchids for retail and wholesale buyers, conducted staff meetings where they informed female employees that if they became pregnant they should consider themselves fired. Female employees who did become pregnant and left to have their babies were not rehired or reinstated when they tried to return.
Violations of federal anti-discrimination laws
The company’s alleged threats of termination violate Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees because of their race, gender, or sex. Discrimination can come in the form of hiring, firing, pay raises, job assignments, promotions, layoffs or reductions in force, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment, because of someone’s race or gender.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978, to provide much-needed protection for female employees from discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.” The PDA includes two primary provisions: one prohibiting pregnancy bias, as a way to discriminate against a female employee because of their sex; the other prohibiting employers from treating pregnant females different from other employees who perform the same work, with respect to leave, insurance and other benefits.
In order to settle the lawsuit, Dash Dream entered into a consent decree where the company will pay at least two former employees a total of $110,000 and also retain an EEO monitor to assist in developing appropriate policies to ensure compliance with the anti-discrimination statutes. The external EEO monitor will help the company establish a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints, as well. The company’s policies will also be revised and distributed to employees along with anti-discrimination training. The consent decree will be in place for five years.
EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan
The purpose of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is to enforce federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC has established a Strategic Enforcement Plan which includes six national priorities, one of which is to address emerging and developing issues in employment law. This includes issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related discrimination.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Michel | King . You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!