Farmington Hills WW Refused to Hire Pregnant Applicant, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - The WW Group., Inc., a company based in Farmington Hills, Mich., doing business as Weight Watchers, will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Weight Watchers' Farmington Hills location violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant as a group leader because she was pregnant. The applicant was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers who had successfully met and maintained her weight goals before becoming pregnant. When Weight Watchers learned of the applicant's pregnancy, it told her that it did not hire pregnant women and refused to consider her any further, the EEOC said. The agency also claimed that Weight Watchers discriminated against the applicant based on pregnancy-related weight when Weight Watchers disqualified her by using its "goal weight" requirement.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees due to their pregnancies. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The WW Group, Inc., d/b/a Weight Watchers, Case No. 2:12-cv-11124) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, posting of anti-discrimination notices and a revision to the company's "goal weight" policy to comply with the PDA.
"Under the PDA, pregnant applicants have the right to fair and equal consideration for employment," said Omar Weaver, senior trial attorney for the EEOC's Detroit Field Office. "The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employers understand that a pregnant applicant's ability or inability to perform the job is the only factor that may be considered."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.