Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

According to a recent story from the AP, the state of Tennessee has stopped taking new inmates at its newest facility in Hartsville, TN after only 4 months of operation. “We’re holding off on sending more prisoners until CCA has an opportunity to increase its recruiting efforts and staffing,” Tennessee Department of Correction Assistant Commissioner Tony Parker told the AP.

This is certainly not the first time CCA has been in trouble for overworking its employees; in 2014, CCA paid 8 million ($8,000,000.00) to settle a lawsuit for back wages for employees at its facility in California City, CA. The company also paid $260,000 to settle overtime claims in November, 2013 for shift managers at its facilities in Kentucky. The settlement was unsealed – over CCA’s objections – after Prison Legal News (PLN), a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, intervened in the case to make the settlement public.

Also, in August 2009 the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas unsealed a $7 million settlement agreement in a nationwide class-action wage and hour lawsuit against CCA. The suit, brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleged that CCA had required some employees to perform work duties “without compensating them for all such hours worked.” Specifically, the company was accused of not paying correctional officers and other employees for pre- and post-shift work that included roll calls, obtaining weapons and equipment, attending meetings and job assignment briefings, and completing paperwork.

According to this recent case, Amy Potts was pregnant and had just undergone a surgical procedure in April 2010 when she requested that she be permitted to lift no more than 25 pounds at the Landis Homes Retirement Community where she worked as a supervisor for eight years. The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that Potts was placed on unpaid, indefinite leave that day and then told to re-apply after she gave birth and was able to return to work without restrictions. When she did reapply in March of 2011, she was informed that she had been terminated effective the end of that month and would not be considered for the positions because they had not been informed that her lifting restriction had ended.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a press release stated that, “The Landis Homes Retirement Community failed to accommodate a pregnant nursing supervisor, terminated her because of her pregnancy and in retaliation for her reasonable accommodation request, and later refused to rehire because of her pregnancy and disability.” Spencer H. Lewis Jr., director of one of the EEOC’s offices stated that, “Fairness and federal law mandate that pregnant employees be treated the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. In this case, the nursing home accommodated non-pregnant employees who had work restrictions, but treated Amy Potts differently because of her pregnancy. That is simply unjust and against the law.”

Larry Guengerich, spokesman for the nursing home’s parent organization, Landis Communities stated in an email that the company “does not discriminate against its employees in any way, shape or form.” He also stated that, “While we do not wish to comment on the specific allegations made by the EEOC at this time, we look forward to vigorously defending our position in court,” he wrote. “The EEOC has painted a picture that Landis intentionally seeks to deprive its employees the rights they are entitled to under law when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.”

This case has been winding its way through he courts for eight (8) years. It may have a significant impact on the rights of pregnant workers. Considering almost half of our labor force are women and over 40% are the bread winners in the family this case is important to so many families.

According to this case, Peggy Young, a former employee of the United Parcel Service or UPS, was pregnant with her daughter when UPS informed her that she could not be given a temporary assignment in order to avoid lifting heavy packages as ordered by her doctor. UPS had employed Young as a part-time driver who was to deliver overnight letters by 8:30 am. This job requires drivers to be able to lift up to seventy pounds. She was informed by her doctor not to lift more than twenty pounds. She stated that, “They told me basically to go home and come back when I was no longer pregnant.” She filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta based company for discriminating against pregnant women.

Young’s lawsuit is about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed by Congress in 1978 to include discrimination against pregnant women as a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Congress stated that workplace rules that excluded pregnant workers from disability benefits and insurance coverage did not amount to sex discrimination under the landmark civil rights law. Young’s lawsuit is to determine if UPS violated the law through its own policies that provide temporary light work jobs only to employees with on the job injuries that have a disability under federal law or to those employees that have lost their federal driver certification.
UPS spokeswoman Kara Gerhardt Ross said the law is on the company’s side. “UPS did not intentionally discriminate,” Ross said. UPS also noted in their court filings that the Postal Service is an independent agency that receives no tax dollars but is subject to congressional control has similar policies when it comes to pregnant employees. The Postal Service did not comment.

Young argued that because UPS made accommodations for non pregnant employees with work restrictions, it should have done the same for her. The lower courts dismissed the suit, agreeing that Young did not prove UPS discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. The justices agreed in July to review the case. Young stated that, “I am fighting for my two daughters and I’m fighting for women who want to start a family and provide for the family at the same time.”
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Tennessee employees and employees all across the United States are entitled to certain rights when applying for, interviewing and getting hired to perform a job. These rights include that a company or organization is not allowed by law to discriminate against employees because of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or pregnancy. Unfortunately however, these types of discrimination occur all too often in the workplace. If you or someone you know has been rejected or fired from a job because of any type of discrimination, then you should speak with a Tennessee employment discrimination lawyer as soon as possible. They will review your case and make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve for the violation of your rights.

According to this lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Crooked Investment Company doing business as Crooked Creek & Creekside Bar & Grille the job applicant had previous experience working in a restaurant. She applied for an available food server position in February of 2013. Her first interview with the Crooked Creek Company went well and she was asked to come back for a second interview. During the second interview, she told the company that she was pregnant. When this information was revealed, the Crooked Creek Company refused to consider her for the job.

If a company refuses to hire someone for a job because they are pregnant, this is a violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first tried to settle this case through its pre-litigation process. When that failed to work the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the applicant and they are also seeking injunctive relief to help prevent any other cases of pregnancy discrimination occurring.

According to a statement by the EEOC’s trial attorney, “Women should not be forced to remove themselves from the labor market simply because they are pregnant.” “The EEOC will vigorously enforce a pregnant woman’s right to be fairly considered for a job.” The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
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By Anne Hunter Williams

If you are pregnant and you have asked your employer for light duty work, and the employer refuses, has the employer violated the law? Most likely. In most situations, an employer must provide light duty work to a pregnant employee if light duty jobs are available. Here are a few examples:

Scenario A: Annette requests light duty because of her pregnancy. Her supervisor is aware that she is pregnant and knows that there are light duty positions available that she could perform. Nevertheless, her supervisor denies her request, telling Annette that having a pregnant worker in the workplace is just too much of a liability for the company.

Result: This is a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Because the employer made derogatory comments about her pregnancy, she doesn’t need to produce evidence it is not necessary for Annette to produce any evidence that other workers who weren’t pregnant received light duty.
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that administers many federal discrimination laws. After you file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, they will ask you if you want to mediate your dispute with the employer. What should you do?

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an informal, confidential process for resolving disputes by using an impartial third-party (the mediator) who meets with the employer and employee. The mediator has no decision-making authority, but rather tries to assist the parties to resolve their dispute. Often, mediation is a great way to preserve or build a better working or parting relationship.
Neither party to a dispute is required to participate in mediation, or to agree to a resolution. Mediation typically includes an opening session, followed by a joint meeting of the parties, allowing both parties to explain their point of view. Then the parties usually go into separate rooms and meet privately with the mediator. Through the mediator the parties attempt to reach an agreement. When an agreement is reached, usually it is memorialized in an enforceable, written document signed by both parties.

Do I need an Attorney?

Each party may have an attorney, friend, relative, or other support person present at the mediation. Having an attorney present will help you make sure that your rights are protected. An attorney can also offer options and solutions that you may not have considered on your own. The attorneys at The Higgins Firm have represented clients and numerous EEOC mediations and are adept at protecting client rights while obtaining a positive resolution for them.

What if We Do Not Resolve Our Case?

If you are not able to reach resolution through mediation, then you may still pursue any legal claims or defenses you have preserved. That means that there is very little downside to participating in a mediation. You can try to resolve your case at mediation, and if you can’t come to an agreement, you can continue with your case.
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Although federal laws are established to prohibit any mistreatment, a recent report explains that pregnant women are routinely denied basic accommodations and even fired. The report cites that this discrimination is even more prevalent among pregnant workers in low-wage jobs. Employers have been found refusing to provide accommodations to pregnant women that would normally be given to other employees with disabilities. If you or a loved one has been the victim of discrimination as a result of your pregnancy, you may need the assistance of an experienced Tennessee employment lawyer.

The report by the National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance centers on discrimination specifically highlighting numerous cases of women faced with the impossible choice of protecting their job or their health. These women in low wage earning jobs lost their income, insurance, and sometimes even their job after being denied temporary accommodation. Some of the examples cited in the report include:

• A worker in a Washington D.C. fast food restaurant allegedly was fired after requesting to drink water and eat snacks during her break and subsequently being denied.
• A Long Island cashier says that she was forced to stand on her feet often up to ten hours a day and was forced to take unpaid leave after being denied a request to sit down.
• A worker in a New York supermarket who says that she was terminated after being denied a transfer request.
• A Maryland truck driver claims that she was forced off of her job and lost her health insurance after being told that she was too much of a liability to the company to keep working while pregnant.

Many low-wage earning workers can be vulnerable to these types of discrimination because they are more likely to have both physically demanding job tasks and employers who are less likely to oblige. Despite these facts, several federal laws have been enacted as a means of preventing discrimination against employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all provide some means of protection for pregnant workers. The Americans with Disabilities act was specifically amended in 2008, to include impairments that may arise in pregnancy including hypertension and severe nausea.

While these federal laws provide some means of protection, courts have interpreted each of these laws differently. Some courts have allocated more protection to pregnant workers while others have provided less protection depending on the certain law. As a result, Congress has introduced a new bill known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in an attempt to provide a clear and unambiguous rule that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers who need them.
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Pregnant employees in Tennessee and all over the United States should not be discriminated against in the workplace, according to The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Under this act, employers are forbidden from discrimination when hiring, terminating, paying, laying off, and giving promotions or benefits to someone because they are pregnant. Unfortunately, this kind of discrimination occurs all too often in the workplace to pregnant women. If you or someone you know has faced this or any other kind of workplace discrimination, it is recommended that you talk to a Tennessee employment discrimination attorney right away. They will help you to determine what kind of compensation you may be eligible to receive for your discrimination claim.

According to this lawsuit, model Brandi Cochran, who was a “Price Is Right” model for eight years, claims that she was discriminated against because she was pregnant. According to her claim, she states, after she got pregnant in 2007 that show producers treated her differently and started to give her less work before she was eventually terminated. Cochran says that this caused stress to her and her baby.

The show’s producers argued that Cochran failed to produce any evidence proving that they didn’t rehire her because of her pregnancy. In addition, the producers say they cannot be liable for discriminating against the model for her pregnancy-related depression, as they had no knowledge of the condition. However, prior to the jury deliberating the case, the judge apparently failed to instruct the jury on the necessary elements to find the producers liable.
According to the law, Cochran’s “Price Is Right” lawsuit was a “mixed motive” discrimination case, meaning her termination arguably may have been based on both discriminatory and nondiscriminatory reasons. In such a case, the judge is required to instruct jurors that the employer is only liable if the discrimination is a “substantial motivating reason” for the termination, and not just a “motivating reason.” The judge felt that the jury had received bad jury instructions and ordered a new trial, overturning the $7.7 million jury award for model Brandi Cochran.
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Unfortunately, even though discriminating on the bases of gender, age, race, and sexual orientation and even pregnancy is against the law, many people face this kind of discrimination at their workplace frequently. If you or someone you know feels like you have been discriminated at your workplace because of your race or gender or because of your pregnancy, then it is important that you speak to a Tennessee pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away. They will hear your case and make sure that you get the compensation you need for what you have been through.

According to recent news about labor and employment, pregnancy has no evidence that it keeps women from full and equal participation in the workforce, however, many employers actively or passively attempt to push pregnant women out of the workplace. The number of claims of pregnancy discrimination that go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasing even with federal and state laws against discrimination.

The current pregnancy law, known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employers with fifteen or more workers from discriminating based on pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnant women must be allowed to work as long as they are able, with any absences treated the same as any other disability leave. This law however does not require any accommodation to be made by the employer. This year, 2012, the EEOC plans to give employers new guidance to make clear that the 35-year-old Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against a worker because she is pregnant.
There is also a proposed new act known as the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act that was introduced to the United States in September of 2012. This act borrows the “reasonable accommodations” from the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would require accommodations for employees limited by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Some of these accommodations could include: providing stools for pregnant employees whose jobs require a lot of standing, allowing pregnant workers to carry water bottles on the job, modifying lifting requirements or reassigning nonessential tasks.
The act would also prohibit employers from firing employees because of pregnancy, or requiring them to take pregnancy leave.
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