EEOC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Against DELiA*
dELiA*s Inc., a specialty retail company targeting teenage girls and young women, has agreed to pay $75,000 and comply with other requirements to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Thursday.
The EEOC lawsuit alleged that two employees at dELiA*s store in Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall, Pennsylvania were subject to pregnancy harassment after notifying their managers about their pregnancies. Nicole Young, a fashion representative, was terminated after complaining about the discrimination and Mallory Martin, a co-manager, was forced to take early maternity leave due to the harassment even though she was able to continue working, the EEOC said.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action No. 5:11-cv-05979) after unsuccessfully attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In addition to paying $75,000 in compensatory damages, the dELia*s must provide training to all supervisors, managers and hiring officials in the company’s Mid-Atlantic District on Title VII’s prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, and revise its employee handbook to provide that the company will not again discriminate based on pregnancy.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
Similarly, California law prohibits an employer from discriminating against or harassing an employee because of a female employee’s pregnancy status. Like in the case of pregnancy harassment, California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee for becoming pregnant or requesting leave associated with pregnancy. If the employer has had five or more full time employees FEHA over the prior year, FEHA’s protections apply. Another statute, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) requires employers to provide up to four months of leave for employees actually “disabled” by pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. The PDLL provides pregnancy leave even when the employer’s policies do not grant leave for other short-term disabilities.
If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination because of your pregnancy status, contact the attorneys at Khorrami, LLP, for an immediate and confidential evaluation.