An Italian restaurant enterprise in California now faces a federal civil lawsuit filed by the United State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.
The suit shows that the EEOC is taking these allegations particularly seriously, as the agency's common practice is to allow employees to sue their employers directly even after substantiated claims of employment discrimination.
According to the allegations, an employee at one of the enterprise's individual eateries informed her employer of her pregnancy. After that, the employer who was a server, started to get fewer hours on her schedule and, after her maternity leave, would not let her return to work as a server. At the end of the day, the woman was fired.
The EEOC is seeking punitive damages, back pay and additional damages on the employee's behalf. Also, the EEOC is asking the court to enter orders against the restaurant to prevent them from discriminating against employees in the future.
The EEOC's lawsuit sends a signal to all employers that discriminating against someone because she is pregnant is against both federal and state law. When an employer chooses to ignore or skirt around these laws, even if it is a money-saving effort, they can face serious repercussions.
Employees should not have to avoid getting pregnant because they are afraid of losing their jobs otherwise. If they do wind up getting pregnant and facing discrimination as a result, then they may have legal options.
For instance, even if an administrative agency does not directly intervene in their cases, they can still take their employer or former employer to court in order to get back pay as well as other compensation and relief. This often is the best way to hold an employer accountable should they choose to engage in pregnancy discrimination.
Source: FOX 5, "Encinitas restaurant named in lawsuit for firing pregnant employee," Feb. 13, 2018