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PRESS RELEASE
1-8-10

Montgomery Restaurant Pays $16,500 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Four Seasons Salad Bar Worker Fired Due to Her Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Lane Hotel Management Company, which formerly owned and operated the Capitol Inn and The Four Seasons Restaurant in Montgomery, will pay $16,500 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that a salad bar prep worker at the Four Seasons Restaurant was terminated because of her pregnancy.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the restaurant would not allow Valerie Bailey to return to work following her pregnancy and childbirth. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (Civil Action No.2:09-cv-767-MEF) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. Lane Hotel Management denied the allegations of the EEOC complaint. The Capitol Inn closed in November, according to news reports, for redevelopment and potential sale.

The consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, requires Lane to pay monetary damages of $16,500. The decree also contains non-monetary provisions. If Lane resumes the restaurant or hotel business in Alabama, it will be required to provide pregnancy discrimination training to supervisors, post a notice for employees about discrimination and disseminate information to employees on reporting discrimination.

“Employers must be on notice that it is illegal and costly to treat pregnant employees differently solely because of their pregnancy,” said District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office. “Our goal is to educate employees about their rights and to discourage and rectify violations of Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.”

Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office added, “This is the latest in a series of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits pursued against Alabama employers by the Commission. We will continue to aggressively pursue employers who discriminate against pregnant employees.”

The PDA prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, which includes childbirth, or any related medical conditions affected by pregnancy. In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 6,196 charges of pregnancy-based discrimination.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.