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EEOC Sues Party City Corporation for Sex and Disability Discrimination

Retailer Unlawfully Fired  Pregnant Employee Upon Receipt of Medical Information, Federal Agency Charges

HOUSTON - Party  supply retail chain Party City  Corporation violated federal law when a Texas store fired a pregnant employee after  she presented the company with physical job restrictions from her doctor,  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a  lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, Jahneiss Groce  was hired by Party City as a team leader in its Pearland, Texas store. Due to cancer  treatment she had received, Groce experienced complica­tions in her pregnancy which  resulted in some medical restrictions on her physical activities. When Groce  presented Party City with these restrictions from her physician, Party City fired  her, because of her pregnancy and/or her cancer-related condition, the EEOC  said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination,  including pregnancy, and the Americans  with Disabilities Act (ADA),  which requires employers to try to make reasonable accom­modations for medical  and physical condi­tions. The EEOC filed  suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern  District of Texas, Houston  Division (Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-00824) after first attempting to reach  a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation process.

The federal agency is seeking a permanent  injunction prohibiting Party City Corporation from  engaging in any future  sex or disability discrimination.  The EEOC also seeks back  pay  with pre-judgment interest, and  compensatory and punitive damages, in  amounts to be determined at trial, and  other relief.

"An employer cannot  fire a pregnant worker with a disability because of assumptions and stereotypes," said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC Houston District Office. "In this case, an employee who had to deal with  cancer and pregnancy was deprived of her livelihood without good cause. The  EEOC is here to stand up for such discrimination victims." 

Regional attorney Rudy Sustaita of the  Houston District Office added, "Companies  must live up to their responsibility to evaluate each employee's situation  without bias based solely on their pregnancy or disability. When  they fail to do so, the EEOC will endeavor to rectify the situation for the  good of all."

Rockaway, N.J.-based Party City operates  and franchises stores that sell party goods and supplies. 

The EEOC advances opportunity in the  workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More  information is available at   Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.