‘Stranger Than Fiction’ Production Companies to Pay $75,000 to Pregnant Job Applicant
CHICAGO – Crick Pictures, L.L.C., and Mandate Pictures, L.L.C., will pay $75,000 to settle a federal pregnancy discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s suit had charged that movie production companies Crick and Mandate refused to hire a pregnant job applicant, Cynthia Castillo-Hill, for a position as an extras casting assistant after they learned that she was expecting a baby. Castillo-Hill sought work on the film Stranger Than Fiction, which stars Will Ferrell.
“The EEOC’s evidence in this case – which included an e-mail from the hiring supervisor – showed that the defendants believed that Castillo-Hill’s pregnancy would prevent her from being able to handle the stress and long hours associated with the job though her own doctor had indicated that the job was appropriate,” explained EEOC Chicago District Office head Jack C. Rowe.
EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson, who oversees all litigation for Chicago District Office, added, “It is just this sort of stereotypical decision making by an employer that is prohibited by federal law, and for good reasons.” Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
The consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Gottschall of U.S. District Court in Chicago today, provides that the defendants will pay the pregnant applicant and her attorneys a total of $75,000, less applicable taxes. The decree enjoins the companies from future pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. It also requires the defendants to provide training to their managers about the obligation to avoid discrimination. The EEOC suit was originally filed and captioned EEOC v. Crick Pictures, et al., Case No. 08 cv 5005, N.D. Illinois E. Div.
EEOC Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton, who worked on the matter, said, “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes clear that pregnant job applicants must be judged on the basis of their job skills and abilities, not on the basis of their pregnancy. We are pleased that the defendants have joined in a voluntary resolution of this suit. All parties thus have saved further time and expense”
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour, who managed the agency’s litigation of the case, added, “Ms. Castillo-Hill will receive meaningful compensation, and through the consent decree, protections are in place to ensure that future discrimination is avoided.”
Federal Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole in Chicago had presided over a settlement conference that led to the resolution of this case.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin, age, disability and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.