During the past week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed four pregnancy discrimination related lawsuits and settled a fifth — just weeks after the government’s workplace discrimination law enforcement arm announced a plan to target employers who illegally discriminate against pregnant women.
On Sept. 20, a California security guard company, Quest Intelligence Group, was sued after a female employee, Tabitha Feeney, was fired from her job during her maternity leave. When Feeney tried to return to work, she was told the company had no open positions, but would call her as soon as it did. Quest never called Feeney, but hired a number of male guards while she waited to return to her job.
“Losing my job and facing a brand-new job search right after giving birth was incredibly stressful,” Feeney said in a statement. “I had a new baby to support and no income. I had planned on going back to my job, and it was devastating to lose that.”
Also facing a lawsuit this week is Bayou City Wings, a Baytown, Texas-based restaurant chain that allegedly fired at least eight female employees because they got pregnant. According to the EEOC complaint, a Bayou City Wings employee handbook specifically instructed managers to fire pregnant employees three months into their pregnancies. One manager said this was because keeping the women working would “be irresponsible in respect to her child’s safety.” The manager was also afraid he would be punished “for not following procedures” if he didn’t fire the women.
A third suit, also involving a restaurant, was filed against J’s Seafood in Panama City, Fla., which was sued Thursday for discrimination after firing two pregnant waitresses, shortly after the women told their manager they were pregnant. “The restaurant told the employees that their pregnancies caused them to be a liability to the company,” said the EEOC.