Just an update for those who are following the recent pregnancy-discrimination guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — despite the controversy some think the agency created amidst the pending U.S. Supreme Court consideration of Young v. United Parcel Inc.: The EEOC isn’t waiting on the high court before filing or settling pregnancy-discrimination lawsuits either.
According to the EEOC’s website, press releases were issued on nine lawsuits filed and two settlements since the agency issued its updated Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues on July 14.
Here, for your information — should you choose to venture into this much reading — are all the cases the EEOC has filed and listed on its website against employers accused of pregnancy discrimination since the guidance was issued, from most recent to oldest:
- EEOC Sues Saginaw Restaurant for Pregnancy Discrimination, 11/4
- EEOC Sues Oran Safety Glass for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/26
- Magnolia Personal Care Home Sued by EEOC for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/25
- EEOC Sues Office Concepts for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/23
- Roseland Community Hospital Sued By EEOC for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/17
- Merry Maids Franchise to Pay $40,000 to Resolve EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Suit, 9/16
- EEOC Sues Tiny’s Organic for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/15
- EEOC Sues Pharmacy Solutions for Pregnancy Discrimination, 9/15
- EEOC Sues Arthur’s Restaurant & Bar for Pregnancy Discrimination, 8/25
- EEOC Sues Savi Technology for Pregnancy Discrimination, 8/7
- Triple T Foods to Pay $30,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Lawsuit, 7/28
All the suits in question accuse the businesses of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
“I am surprised that this issue continues to be a recurring theme in the workplace in this day and age,” says Robert Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, which filed the Pharmacy Solutions lawsuit. “We hope that by continuing to increase public awareness through our law-enforcement efforts, we will see more of an awakening by some companies about the right of a woman to hold on to her job and to earn a living when she is expecting and during her maternity leave.”
But critics of the EEOC’s assertiveness and timing in issuing its guidance — which was the focus of this HREOnline™ news analysis I wrote back in July — say adding cases to the pregnancy-discrimination docket only clutters an already-cluttered legal landscape.
“With its new pregnancy enforcement guidance still in its first trimester, the EEOC has set about vigorously pursuing companies that do not comply,” thereby filling the courts with more to work on as the Supreme Court hearing has yet to be scheduled, says Philip Voluck, managing partner in the Blue Bell, Pa., office of Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck.
“Since the EEOC first gave birth [pun intended, no doubt] to the guidance in July, it has inserted itself as plaintiff in at least nine federal-court lawsuits against employers [allegedly] discriminating against pregnant employees,” he says. “Each decision is accompanied by rather strong remarks from the [agency], which state quite clearly its intent to induce an ‘awakening’ by employers and erase ‘archaic prejudices’ still held by companies toward pregnant women.”
The issue up for consideration in Young v. UPS is whether an employer — in this case, UPS — is required under the PDA to offer light-duty work to pregnant employees with restrictions, even if light-duty work is available for certain categories of nonpregnant employees.
“This is precisely the issue the Supreme Court has yet to take up,” Voluck told me back in July, “and that decision won’t come out until next year some time. “I honestly have no idea why this was issued at this time,” he said then. “A power move? I have no idea.
“It’s like the Perfect Storm, these two entities colliding,” he said, referring to the 2000 movie, “though my crystal ball tells me there’s no doubt the Supreme Court will expand the rights of pregnant women.”Twitter It!