Woman Fired After Informing Employer of Medical Treatment Due to Complications With Pregnancy, Agency Says
LAREDO, Texas - Platinum Production Testing Services, a Laredo company which provides oil/gas testing, measuring, surveying and analysis surveys, discriminated on the basis of pregnancy when it fired an employee after she requested leave for a pregnancy-related complication, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Civil Action Number 5:12-cv-139, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Laredo Division, Platinum violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), when it fired a secretary/office clerk after she requested time off for medical treatment to address complications with a pregnancy.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney David Rivela of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office said Platinum essentially admitted in a letter obtained by the EEOC that it fired its employee because of her pregnancy. According to Rivela, the letter initially sent to the Texas Workforce Commission mentions that Platinum had hired this particular employee believing she was unable to conceive because of a past history of not being able to have a baby. The letter goes on to state, "When she got pregnant and got sick, after several days absent, and thinking she would have to stay home for some time, she was replaced after five days off or more."
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The remedies sought by the EEOC include compensatory and punitive damages for the victim as well as injunctive relief.
"This was one of the most flagrant examples of pregnancy discrimination I have ever seen, said Rivela. "What happened to this woman is reprehensible and illegal. The EEOC is committed to fighting bias against pregnant women, and will seek vigorous enforcement of the laws against it."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor added, "It is unfortunate that more than a third of a century after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers are still making decisions based on supposed fertility, pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. The law is clear - an employer cannot fire an employee because she got pregnant and then suffered complications. This lawsuit should remind all employers that if they violate federal law, the EEOC will take strong action to protect the rights of pregnant workers."
In fiscal year 2011, the EEOC received 28,538 charges of sex-based discrimination, of which 5,797 alleged pregnancy discrimination. In that year the EEOC recovered $17.2 million in monetary benefits for pregnancy discrimination victims through settlements, plus more monetary benefits obtained through litigation.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at www.eeoc.gov.