Assisted Living Facility Fired Employee Due to Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS -- Murphy Healthcare III, LLC, which owns and operates the Frankston Healthcare Center, an assisted living facility in Frankston, Texas, violated federal law by discriminating against an employee because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC’s suit, Civil Action No. 6:10-cv-00490, filed in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, asserts that Murphy Healthcare III terminated Myesha Kerr, a housekeeper, soon after she informed the company that she was pregnant. Kerr’s supervisor told the EEOC that he never would have hired the housekeeper had he known of her pregnancy, because he believed Kerr might have hurt herself by working. However, federal law provides that it is the employee, not the employer, who is to decide how long to continue working during a pregnancy. The employer’s arbitrary judgment does not supplant the determination of the employee who has the benefit of consultation with her own physician, the EEOC asserts.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by Pregnancy Discrimination Act, under which employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency’s lawsuit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief including an injunction against discriminating in the future.
“Ms. Kerr’s employer opted to deprive her of her livelihood based on stereotypes about women who are expecting,” said Meaghan Shepard, the trial attorney handling the case for the EEOC. “It is simply against the law to decide to fire a woman just because she’s pregnant.”
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “You would expect that, during difficult economic times, employers would better understand that a woman may hope to contribute as long as possible to the income needs anticipated for her growing family. Cutting short those opportunities because of paternalistic fears is not justified.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.