D.C. Law Firm to Pay $18,000 to Pregnant Applicant for Rescinded Job Offer
WASHINGTON - James E. Brown & Associates, PLLC, a Washington, D.C. law firm, agreed to pay $18,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC said Zorayda J. Moreira-Smith interviewed for an associate attorney position at Brown & Associates around November 2010 and received a job offer in January 2011. Before Moreira-Smith accepted the job offer, on January 6, 2011, she e-mailed the Brown & Associates' business manager to inquire about the company's maternity leave policy, among other things. In the same e-mail, Moreira-Smith informed the business manager that she was six months pregnant. Less than two hours later, Brown & Associates e-mailed Moreira-Smith and rescinded its job offer. The EEOC claimed that Brown rescinded its offer because of her pregnancy.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which holds that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. James E. Brown & Associates, PLLC, Civil Action No. 12-cv-262 (RLW)), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to resolve the matter through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires the firm to implement a policy that prohibits discrimination, provide EEO training to all of its personnel and post a notice to its employees about the settlement. Brown & Associates is enjoined from engaging in further pregnancy discrimination or retaliation and has agreed to be monitored by the EEOC for the term of the decree.
"No woman should have to choose between having children and working," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, which has litigation authority in the District of Columbia. "Employers must remember that they cannot make employment decisions based on stereotypes about pregnant employees. As the law makes clear, discrimination due to pregnancy is illegal and the EEOC will vigorously redress violations of the law."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.