Federal Agency Charged Office Furniture Store with Refusing to Hire Applicant When It Learned She Was Pregnant
NEW YORK - Benhar Office Interiors LLC, a New York-based office furnishing and architectural store in Manhattan, will pay $90,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Benhar rejected a qualified applicant for a controller position shortly after learning the applicant was pregnant. Benhar had interviewed the applicant multiple times, gave her positive feedback and extended a job offer through a staffing company. Soon after the staffing company informed Benhar's president of the applicant's pregnancy, however, Benhar refused to hire the applicant and later hired a non-pregnant applicant instead.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from subjecting employees to discrimination based on pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit on Jan. 30, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Civil Action No. 14 Civ. 574) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit requires that Benhar provide training on laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The three-year consent decree also requires the company to distribute and post a revised anti-discrimination policy and provide to the EEOC all employee complaints of sex and/or pregnancy discrimination.
"Employment decisions cannot be made on the basis of pregnancy," said EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry. "The EEOC will continue to take vigorous action to remedy discrimination against pregnant applicants and employees."
Catherine Wan, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, "We are pleased that Benhar worked with us to resolve this lawsuit. We are confident that the measures Benhar has put in place will increase awareness that pregnancy discrimination violates the law."
EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose said, "Employers have a duty to respect the ability of pregnant women to participate in the workforce. The EEOC is committed to enforcing the law when employers fall short of this duty."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The New York District Office of the EEOC oversees Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and portions of New Jersey. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.