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PRESS RELEASE
12-23-14

Justice Department Files Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department  today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education,  alleging that the board discriminated against pregnant teachers at Scammon  Elementary School by subjecting them to adverse personnel actions, including  termination in some instances, after they announced their pregnancies. According to the complaint, these adverse  personnel actions were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of  1964.  Title VII is a federal statute  that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national  origin and religion. The statute  explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against female employees due  to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

The suit,  filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of  Illinois, alleges that, starting in 2009, the principal at Scammon subjected  female teachers to lower performance evaluations, discipline, threatened  termination and/or termination because of their pregnancies. The complaint further alleges that the board  approved the firing of six recently pregnant teachers employed at Scammon and  forced two other recently pregnant teachers to leave Scammon. The department's complaint seeks a court order  that would require the board to develop and implement policies that would  prevent its employees from being subjected to discrimination due to their  pregnancies. The relief sought also  includes monetary damages as compensation for those teachers who were harmed by  the alleged discrimination.

Two teachers who had been pregnant  while working at Scammon filed charges of sex discrimination with the Chicago  District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC investigated the charges and  determined that there was reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred  against the two charging parties as well as against other pregnant  teachers. The EEOC was unsuccessful in  its attempts to conciliate the matter before referring it to the Department of  Justice.

"No woman should have to make a choice between her job and  having a family," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the  Civil Rights Division. "Federal law  requires employers to maintain a workplace free of discrimination on the basis  of sex."

"Despite much progress, we continue to see the persistence  of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle  discriminatory practices in the workplace," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang.

"The EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce Title VII's  prohibition of discrimination against pregnant employees," said John P. Rowe, former  District Director of the EEOC's Chicago District Office.  Rowe led the EEOC's administrative  investigation of the charges filed by the two teachers.

This lawsuit is brought by the  Department of Justice as a result of a joint effort to enhance collaboration  between the EEOC and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for  vigorous enforcement of Title VII.

More information about Title VII  and other federal employment laws is available on the website of the Employment  Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division (www.justice.gov/crt/about/emp/).

The continued enforcement of Title  VII has been a priority of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Additional information on the Civil Rights  Division's work is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt/. Pregnancy discrimination, in particular, has  been identified by the EEOC as a strategic enforcement priority, and earlier  this year, the agency issued updated guidance, which is available at www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy_guidance.cfm