Major Builder Fired Employee With Severe Pregnancy Complications, Federal Agency Charges
SEATTLE — A Fortune 500 home builder and land developer which identifies itself as the nation’s largest home builder refused to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy-related disability and unlawfully fired her because of it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC’s suit charged that D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) refused to accommodate a female project manager for Horton in Kirkland, Wash., when it denied her additional unpaid leave time after her doctor placed her on bed rest for over seven months as a result of pregnancy-related complications. Although the company initially provided some leave time, it finally stated it was against company policy to provide the employee any more leave time, even if it was unpaid, and then fired her.
Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to engage in an interactive process with employees in good faith, exploring possible accommodations for an employee’s disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington [Case No. C09-1383-RSM] after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of the employee, training on anti-discrimination laws, changes in policies on accommodating employees with disabilities, posting of notices at the work site, and other injunctive relief.
EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted, “It is shocking that a company of this size would have a policy that is so rigid, one that fails to consider its obligation under the law to discuss potential accommodations for an employee’s disability.”
San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “Companies that fail to engage in discussion with their employees about reasonable ways to accommodate their disabilities will lose valuable members of their work force and invite litigation. A company that bills itself as ‘America’s Builder’ can surely do better to ensure equal opportunity for all its workers, including those with disabilities.”
According to the company website, www.drhorton.com, D.R. Horton is the biggest home builder in the United States and a Fortune 500 company with operations in 28 states and headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.