Restaurant Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit with EEOC

A restaurant has agreed to pay $20,000 to a former employee, along with other relief, to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC v. Reed Pierce’s, No. 3:10-cv-00541, consent decree (S.D. Miss., Feb. 5, 2013). The lawsuit alleged that the restaurant unlawfully terminated the employee because she was pregnant. The restaurant continues to deny the EEOC’s allegations, but agreed via a consent decree to pay damages, allow injunctive relief, modify its employment policies, and mandate training for its employees.

The complainant worked for Reed Pierce’s, a restaurant in Byram, Mississippi, as a waitress. According to the amended complaint filed by the EEOC, the complainant notified supervisors that she was pregnant in November 2008. She reportedly had an allergic reaction to prenatal vitamins in February 2009, and asked to leave work as a result. The employer had allegedly granted similar requests by non-pregnant employees to leave work because of illness, but it denied her request. She made a similar request to take off from work for a doctor’s appointment in March 2009, but was denied. The employer had allegedly granted requests to leave work for medical appointments for other employees. The complainant received notice of her termination from the employer on March 7, 2009, allegedly because “her pregnancy was interfering with her ability to do her job.” Reed Pierce’s, am. complaint at 3-4 (Oct. 18, 2010). She maintains that she was still able to perform her job duties, but received disparate treatment from her employer because of her pregnancy.

After she filed a complaint with the EEOC, it brought suit against Reed Pierce’s on her behalf in 2010. The lawsuit alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on gender and other factors. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII to include pregnancy discrimination as a form of gender discrimination. The lawsuit also cites Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which allows a person claiming a Title VII violation to also claim damages for intentional discrimination. The amended complaint alleges that Reed Pierce’s acted “with malice and/or with reckless indifference” to the complainant’s rights. Id. at 4. New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination contains similar prohibitions against gender and pregnancy discrimination, as well as intentional acts of employment discrimination.

The parties entered into a consent decree in February 2013 to settle the lawsuit. Reed Pierce’s agreed to pay $20,000 to the complainant: $15,000 in back pay and $5,000 in compensatory damages. The restaurant also agreed to injunctions against discriminating against employees based on sex or pregnancy and retaliating against an employee for complaining about or opposing a discriminatory practice. It agreed to create internal anti-discrimination policies, to be implemented within ninety days of the settlement date, and to provide the regional EEOC office with copies of all new policies. All employees of Reed Pierce’s at the Byram location must participate in a one-hour training on pregnancy discrimination. Finally, the company must report on its progress to the EEOC within six months.

If you need to speak to an employment law attorney in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

Former Manager Sues Hotel for Firing her After She Gave Birth in Guest Room, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 29, 2013
Former Game Show Model Receives $8 Million Verdict in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 15, 2013
New Jersey Passes Law Against Gender Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, November 2, 2012

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