70,000 reasons on why you don’t decide whether your pregnant worker can perform her duties

Employers are prohibited from deciding what a pregnant employee can or cannot do.

I am not sure at what point in history we decided that pregnant women are too delicate to continue to work. I am sure our nomad ancestors did not decide to stop their activities because a female was pregnant. In fact there is a study that shows that women living in settlements do worse during pregnancy than nomadic women. U.S. law dictates that women in the workplace are that ones that make the decision, not their employers. One employer in Texas didn’t know that and it cost them big time.

Pregnancy discrimination

Guidance on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) states that “… your employer cannot remove you from your job or place you on leave because it believes that work would pose a risk to you or your pregnancy.” Violation of this provision is considered an act of sexual discrimination. One employer in Texas either did not know this or ignored the law.

The case

According to an EEOC press release, a Houston area summer camp company violated Title VII of the CRA of 1964 by demoting a female employee who had become pregnant and then developed gestational diabetes. The executive decided the job the employee held was too rigorous for the employee and removed her from the job even though the employee never requested any such action. She then complained to the director that what was done was illegal and was promptly fired and then sued the employee in two lawsuits. Anyone want to guess what happened next?


This company made several major mistakes. Let’s list them:

  • Made the decision to remove her from her job even though she had not requested such a move- violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and thus Title VII
  • Terminated her after she complained about the removal from her job- Retaliation, a violation of Title VII
  • Terminated her in relation to her gestational diabetes- violation of the ADAAA, another Title VII charge

The EEOC took the employee’s case and filed suit against the company and won a settlement of $70,000. In addition to the money the company also had to:

  • Devise and implement non-discrimination policies, complaint procedures and guidelines;
  • Post an anti-discrimination notice in the workplace;
  • Provide annual anti-discrimination training for its owners, managers and employees;
  • Provide other compliance reports to the EEOC over a two-year period.
  • Agreed not to seek any further enforcement of or recovery from the two lawsuits it filed against the employee.

Plus the company suffered the bad publicity associated with this discrimination and lost a good employee.

All executives and managers need training

If the executive director was ignorant of the law they are no longer. No organization should allowed executives or managers to run an organization without some basic understanding of employment law, especially if there is no HR manager offering guidance. They need to go to classes, or read books or read blogs. Just think of the amount of training they could have gotten for $70,000.

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