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Sharmira Johnson

Judge rules against nonprofit with a ‘No Pregnancy At Work’ policy

A federal judge ordered a non profit to pay a former employee $75,000  after it fired her for violating the organization’s “no pregnancy in the workplace.”

The United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc. provides housing for people with disabilities and has a policy in place stating that any woman who becomes pregnant will be fired and no pregnant woman applying for the position as a resource technician should be hired.

Even though Sharmira Johnson performed her job with care and her pregnancy didn’t restrict her from carrying out her duties, the organization fired her arguing it was doing it to ensure her safety and that of her unborn baby and its clients.

Johnson brought lawsuit to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the case eventually wound up before U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore.

She found the organization’s argument didn’t hold up, finding that United Bible “recklessly” failed to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, race, religion, and other characteristics, by having the anti-pregnancy policy.

The organization was contracted with the state of Texas which also requires compliance with its anti-discrimination laws, and the court said the group failed to show that all pregnant women are unable to perform their duties safely.

The judge awarded Johnson about $25,000 in back pay and overtime plus interest, as well as $50,000 in damages for emotional and mental suffering.

This case was easier to order because United Bible had such a blatant policy on its books but there are hundreds of other companies and groups that try to circumvent anti-pregnancy discriminatory actions by claiming pregnancy impairs women’s ability to do their jobs. Those policies are based on archaic and outdated notions about pregnancy.

Read more about the suit at the EEOC website HERE!

photo: StockImages

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