Christian Camp Demoted Employee Because of Her Pregnancy and a Related Complication, Then Fired Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
HOUSTON - Carolina Creek Christian Camp, Inc., a Huntsville, Texas-area business offering summer camping and retreats, will pay $70,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Carolina Creek violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it demoted Korrie L. Reed after learning she had a pregnancy-related complication. According to the EEOC, soon after starting her position as camp registrar, Reed learned she was pregnant, and, shortly thereafter, developed gestational diabetes. Reed never requested a job reassignment, nor did she indicate she was unable to perform her job duties. Nevertheless, Carolina Creek's executive director demoted Reed, claiming that the registrar job was too demanding for Reed because of her pregnancy and related medical condition. After Reed told the executive director that she believed her demotion was illegal, Carolina Creek fired her and then sued her in two different lawsuits.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC also asserts that Carolina Creek's conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination because of a disability, including a pregnancy-related medical condition or complication, as well as retaliation for opposing such discrimination. Under these statutes, an employer cannot make employment decisions based on an employee's pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions. Further, the statutes prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against an employee in retaliation for her making a complaint of discrimination.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:16-cv-03714) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent decree settling the suit, approved on May 17, 2017, by the district court, provides for significant non-monetary relief, including an injunction prohibiting future discrimination or retaliation by Carolina Creek. The decree also requires Carolina Creek to devise and implement non-discrimination policies, complaint procedures and guidelines; post an anti-discrimination notice in the workplace; provide annual anti-discrimination training for its owners, managers and employees; and provide other compliance reports to the EEOC over a two-year period. Carolina Creek has also agreed not to seek any further enforcement of or recovery from the two lawsuits it filed against Reed.
"Demoting a pregnant employee because of a belief that a pregnancy-related condition prevents her from performing her job duties is illegal, as is firing the employee for complaining that the demotion is discriminatory," said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC's regional attorney in Houston.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Connie Gatlin, the attorney in charge of litigating the case, added, "The day is over when an employer could force a pregnant woman out of her job because of stereotypical, unsupported beliefs about her abilities. A company cannot take it upon itself to remove an employee from her job because it suspects her pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition may interfere with the performance of her duties."
The EEOC's Houston District Office has jurisdiction over Houston, parts of East Texas and all of Louisiana.
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.