Wenatchee Washington fruit grower Tiny's Organic will pay $17,500 and implement preventative measures to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. The federal agency charged that Tiny's Organic fired Maria Guillen nine days after she disclosed that she was pregnant with twins.
Guillen was a six-year employee who had successfully worked her way up from field laborer to supervisor. Her employer cited fears for her safety and company liability, even though Guillen's doctor had cleared her to perform the job without medical restriction.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
Under the consent decree settling the suit, Tiny's Organic will pay Guillen $17,500 and also take steps to prevent future gender or pregnancy discrimination. These measures include providing an anti-discrimination policy and annual training to all management and staff in both English and Spanish. The company also agreed to institute procedures for handling complaints and to hold management and supervisors accountable for responding to these matters. In addition, Tiny's Organic will post a notice regarding the case, and report annually to the EEOC for a two-year period.
Congress made it clear that under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the decision to work while being pregnant is reserved for each individual woman to make for herself. These types of “paternalistic” attitudes can result in unequal treatment of pregnant employees at work, which is illegal.
Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a workplace problem. Pregnancy discrimination claims filed by women of color increased by 76% from FY 1996 to FY 2005, while pregnancy discrimination claims overall increased 25% during the same time period.