An Austin, Texas bar faces an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) lawsuit after allegedly firing a worker for being pregnant. The suit sends a warning to employers about the risks of pregnancy discrimination as protections for pregnancy are set to expand when the federal Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA) becomes effective next month.
The lawsuit signals the REOC’s continuing commitment to enforce pregnancy discrimination laws including new pregnancy accommodation mandates set to take effect June 27. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), set to go into effect on June 27, 2023, will require employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to workers for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
The pregnancy discrimination suit filed by the EEOC accuses Corner Bar with illegally discriminating against a female bartender by reducing her hours and terminating her because she was pregnant.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the female bartender told her managers she was pregnant. Soon after her pregnancy became visible, her hours were cut and she was taken off the closing shifts, which were among the most profitable. Corner Bar later informed the bartender in a phone call that the business was “parting ways” with her, the EEOC said.
The lawsuit against three limited liability companies that operate Corner Bar and other Austin-area hospitality businesses charges the alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and appropriate injunctive relief to prevent similar discriminatory practices in the future.
The EEOC announcement of the lawsuit warns other businesses against pregnancy discrimination.
“This lawsuit should serve to remind employers that federal law clearly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions,” said Philip Moss, a trial attorney with the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “The EEOC remains committed to fighting discrimination based on sex in the workplace, including pregnancy discrimination, in all of its forms.”
The announcement also makes clear this readiness extends to the impending requirements of the PWFA. Robert Canino, regional attorney for the Dallas District Office, added, “Employers violate discrimination laws when they deny women opportunities based on stereotypes and unfounded assumptions about what they are able to do during and after pregnancies. As a matter of fact, the importance of these workplace pregnancy discrimination issues is further re-enforced by the federal Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA), which becomes effective next month.”
All covered employers should take immediate steps to update policies, postings, training and practices to ensure their ability to defend their compliance with the PWFA and other federal and state pregnancy discrimination, leave and accommodation requirements.
We hope this update is helpful. For more information about these or other health or other legal, management or public policy developments, please contact the author Cynthia Marcotte Stamer via e-mail or via telephone at (214) 452 -8297.
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About the Author
Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for 35+ years of health industry and other management work, public policy leadership and advocacy, coaching, teachings, and publications. As a significant part of her work, Ms. Stamer has worked extensively domestically and internationally with business, government and community leaders to prepare for and deal with pregnancy, disability and other discrimination, leave, health and safety, and other workforce, employee benefit, health care and other operations planning, preparedness and response for more than 35 years. As a part of this work, she regularly advises businesses and government leaders on an on-demand and ongoing basis about preparation of workforce, health care and other business and government policies and practices to deal with management in a wide range of contexts ranging from day to day operations, through times of change and in response to complaints, investigations and enforcement.
Author of a multitude of other highly regarded publications and presentations on MHPAEA and other and health and other benefits, workforce, compliance, workers’ compensation and occupational disease, business disaster and distress and many other topics, Ms. Stamer has worked with health plans, employers, insurers, government leaders and others on these and other health benefit, workforce and performance and other operational and tactical concerns throughout her adult life.
A former lead advisor to the Government of Bolivia on its pension privatization project, Ms. Stamer also has worked domestically and internationally as an advisor to business, community and government leaders on health, severance, disability, pension and other workforce, health care and other reform, as well as regularly advises and defends organizations about the design, administration and defense of their organization’s workforce, employee benefit and compensation, safety, discipline and other management practices and actions.
Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law By the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Scribe for the ABA JCEB Annual Agency Meeting with OCR, Chair-Elect of the ABA TIPS Medicine and Law Committee, Chair of the ABA International Section Life Sciences Committee, and Past Group Chair and current Welfare Plan Committee Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Group, former Vice President and Executive Director of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, past Board President of Richardson Development Center (now Warren Center) for Children Early Childhood Intervention Agency, past North Texas United Way Long Range Planning Committee Member, and past Board Member and Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, and a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her extensive publications and thought leadership as well as leadership involvement in a broad range of other professional and civic organizations. For more information about Ms. Stamer or her health industry and other experience and involvements, see www.cynthiastamer.com or contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.
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