Laurinburg Nursing Home Refused to Accommodate and Fired Pregnant Nursing Assistants, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc., doing business as Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, a North Carolina corporation, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related work restrictions of two employees, resulting in the employees' termination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Scottish Pines offered light duty or job modifications to accommodate the temporary restrictions of certified nursing assistants (CNA) who were injured at work. However, the company refused to grant similar accommodations or modifications to CNAs who experienced pregnancy-related work restrictions. The EEOC says that in November 2014, the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related lifting restriction of CNA Mary Jacobs and instead placed her on unpaid leave. The company terminated Jacobs in February 2015 when her leave expired and she was unable to return to work without the pregnancy-related restriction.
Further, the EEOC says, in December 2015, CNA Laketa Watts notified Scottish Pines of her pregnancy-related work restrictions, including a 20-pound lifting restriction. According to the EEOC's suit, the company refused to accommodate Watts' work restrictions. At all times relevant, the company had mechanical lifting devices to lift patients and did not prohibit CNAs from seeking assistance from co-workers to manually lift patients. Accordingly, the EEOC contends that Jacobs' and Watts' pregnancy-related work restrictions could have been accommodated.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc. d/b/a Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Civil Action No 1:18-cv-00170) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Jacobs and Watts.
"Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.