Fast-Food Eatery Refused to Hire Pregnant Applicant, Federal Agency Charges
CONCORD, N.C. - A Chick-fil-A franchise restaurant violated federal law when it refused to hire a female job applicant because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, John Charping, d/b/a Chick-fil-A at Concord Commons, refused to hire Heather Morrison because she was pregnant. The EEOC said Morrison interviewed for a team member position with the restaurant's owner at the restaurant around Nov. 16, 2012. At the time of the interview Morrison was six months pregnant. During the interview, the owner asked Morrison a series of pregnancy-related questions such as how many months she had been pregnant; when she was expected to deliver; her childcare plans after giving birth; and how much maternity leave she planned to take. Although Morrison felt that the owner's questions were inappropriate, she answered them because she wanted the job. Three days after the interview, the owner called Morrison and informed her that she would not be hired. The owner told Morrison to call back after she had the baby and had childcare in place. The EEOC argues that Chick-fil-A at Concord Commons denied Morrison a job because she was pregnant.
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 North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. John Charping d/b/a Chick-fil-A at Concord Commons, Civil Action No.1:13-CV-00535), after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Morrison, as well as injunctive relief.
"Working women who choose to have children cannot be penalized or treated differently from other employees simply because they are pregnant," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Employers must remember that refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant violates federal law, and the EEOC will enforce that law."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Tina Burnside added, "Pregnant women must be treated in the same manner as other applicants, and employers should not make inquiries related to pregnancy or deny a woman a job based on pregnancy."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.