- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued a Phoenix call center and its staffing agency, alleging it fired workers because of their pregnancies (EEOC v. LogistiCare Solutions, LLC and Human Capital Management No. 20-cv-00852 (D. Arizona May 1, 2020)).
- The staffing company placed at least two pregnant women with the call center as customer service representatives, EEOC said in a statement. A week into training, the workers were fired because "LogistiCare assumed they would not be able to comply with its attendance policy," the Commission said. The staffing company knew why the women were terminated but did not take "appropriate corrective action," continuing to place employees with LogistiCare, according to EEOC.
- "Employers should not make employment decisions based on assumptions about what pregnant employees can and cannot do," EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill, said, adding that "pregnancy discrimination remains a significant barrier for women in the workplace."
The EEOC views discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions as a prohibited form of sex discrimination. under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition cannot be a motivating factor in an adverse employment action, EEOC says, which means that an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote or take any other adverse action against a woman simply because she is pregnant.
Although pregnancy bias often comes up with respect to pregnancy-related medical conditions or needed accommodations such as light duty, another accommodation — leave — can be actionable under the PDA if not properly handled.
An employer cannot impose greater restrictions on pregnancy-related medical leave than it does on other medical leave, EEOC says. For example, the federal agency notes that an employer cannot end the employment of a pregnant employee for being absent if her absence is covered by the employer's sick leave policy, nor can it require employees who are pregnant or dealing with a pregnancy-related condition to use up their sick leave before using other types of leave if it does not place the same requirement upon employees who ask for leave based on other types of medical conditions.
Employers may want to include the PDA and related local laws in compliance training for managers and supervisors.