Furniture Company Fired Employee After She Disclosed She Was Pregnant, Federal Agency Charges
RALEIGH, N.C. - RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia, a Florida corporation that operates a chain of Rooms to Go furniture stores and distributions centers nationwide, violated federal law when it fired an employee because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's complaint, the company hired Chantoni McBryde on June 1, 2015 and assigned her to work as a shop apprentice at the company's temporary training facility in Dunn, N.C. The job required the use of various chemicals to repair furniture. On June 3, McBryde informed the company's shop trainer that she was pregnant. Later that same day, McBryde was pulled into a meeting with the company's shop trainer, shop manager and regional shop manager and was asked to confirm that she was pregnant. EEOC said that during the meeting, the regional shop manager showed McBryde a can of lacquer thinner that contained a warning that the contents could potentially pose a risk to a woman or her unborn child, and discussed the warning with McBryde. EEOC said that McBryde was then told that because she was pregnant, she could no longer work at the facility.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia d/b/a Rooms to Go, Civil Action No. 5:16-cv-00663-BO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks back pay as well as compensatory damages and punitive damages for McBryde. EEOC also seeks injunctive relief.
"Pregnant women have the right to make their own decisions about working while pregnant, including the risks they are willing to assume," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Companies must not impose paternalistic notions on pregnant women as doing so can result in unlawful discrimination."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.