- Scribe-X Northwest, a medical documentation service, will pay $80,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- According to the EEOC, a 28-year-old applicant received an offer and passed all pre-employment screens, but Scribe-X's CEO called and rescinded the offer when she announced her pregnancy. The CEO allegedly told the applicant that she should have notified the company about her pregnancy because it would not have hired her had it known.
- In addition to the monetary damages, the three-year consent decree requires Scribe-X to implement policies that explain employee rights and responsibilities, provide anti-discrimination training to employees and upper management and report to the EEOC on consent decree compliance.
While pregnancy bias allegations aren't usually quite as blatant as this one, many lawsuits are triggered by similarly ill-advised comments. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a jury should hear a case in which a manager allegedly complained about having "too many pregnant workers." And Party City is defending a lawsuit alleging a manager told a pregnant employee experiencing complications that it was "unlikely" to accommodate her.
Pregnancy itself is not a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it can give rise to related conditions that are covered. If so, employers must provide reasonable accommodations. Separately, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act arguably requires employers to provide accommodations as they do for other conditions.
Moreover, employers may not retaliate against pregnant employees who request or require accommodations, and the EEOC says that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is a prohibited form of sex bias.
Training, therefore, is key. Ogletree Deakins Office Managing Shareholder Gregory J. Hare, speaking at a recent Society for Human Resource Management conference, said all managers need to know at least a few basics about employment law because managers speak on behalf of the company.