Company Fired Employee After She Requested Maternity Leave, Federal Agency Charged
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Level Four Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc. has agreed to pay $48,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, Level Four, a privately owned health care company that specializes in providing orthotic and prosthetic care to pediatric and special needs patients, interviewed and hired Lesley Lawson for a billing and authorization specialist position in early May 2013. In early June 2013, Lawson requested approximately four weeks of maternity leave beginning around August 2013. According to the EEOC's complaint, Lawson's supervisor began making plans to cover Lawson's work while she was away on maternity leave. However, the company fired Lawson in late June 2013 after her supervisor told the company's then-owner about Lawson's maternity leave request. The EEOC said the company unlawfully fired Lawson because of her pregnancy and request for maternity leave.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Level Four Orthotics & Prosthetics, Civil Action No 1:15-cv-00043) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Lawson, the company agreed to a five-year consent decree requiring it to adopt a policy that prohibits the company from taking any future adverse personnel actions against an employee based on her sex or pregnancy status. The company also agreed to annually train its managers and employees on Title VII and the policy, and to report to the EEOC the names of employees who disclosed their pregnancies to the company and how their employment was affected afterward.
"This case is a reminder to employers that no working woman should fear losing her job because she is pregnant or needs maternity leave," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.