Home Owner Sought to Replace Employees as Soon as They Announced Their Pregnancies, Agency Claims
PHOENIX — Beehive of Vernal, Inc., operating as BeeHive Homes, discriminated against pregnant employees by subjecting them to harassment, discriminatory treatment, demotion, and discharge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today in federal court.
According to the EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division (EEOC v. Beehive of Vernal, Inc., Case No. 2:11-cv-00919-SA), at least two pregnant managers were subjected to constant harassment by the company’s owner, who continually offered to hire replacements for them even when they were months from delivering their babies. The owner also subjected pregnant employees to closer scrutiny and harsher discipline, including demotion and discharge, as compared to non-pregnant employees, the agency claims.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, protects workers from discrimination based upon sex, including pregnancy. The statute also imposes liability on employers who create an environment so hostile that an employee is constructively discharged. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The lawsuit seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the employees, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discriminatory practices in the future.
“It’s hard to believe that employers in this day and age still think it’s okay to make negative assumptions about a woman’s ability to work when she’s pregnant,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “To limit a woman’s employment opportunities right at the time when her family is growing and she often needs to maximize her earning ability is both unlawful and unfair.”
EEOC’s District Director Rayford O. Irvin, added, “Too many employers engage in unlawful employment activities based on stereotypes, whether they are regarding employees’ disabilities, race, or, in this case, pregnancy. All workers deserve the opportunity to be judged based on their abilities, not based on discriminatory stereotypes.”
According to its website, BeeHive Homes operates two assisted living facilities in Vernal, Utah. Other BeeHive Homes franchises operate throughout the West.
The EEOC Phoenix District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, with Area Offices in Albuquerque and Denver.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.