Company Forced Pregnant Employees Onto Unpaid Leave, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - An airline ramp and cargo handling company that operated at Detroit Metropolitan Airport will pay $120,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Simplicity Ground Services, LLC violated federal law by forcing Raylynn Bishop and other pregnant employees onto unpaid leave. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Simplicity also refused to accommodate pregnancy-related lifting restrictions. Non-pregnant employees with similar restrictions, however, were routinely granted light duty.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Simplicity Ground Services, LLC., Case No. 2:18-cv-10989) against Simplicity in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree settling the suit, in addition to providing for the award of monetary relief to affected pregnant employees, enjoins Simplicity from forcing pregnant employees onto unpaid leave in the future. The decree also prohibits Simplicity from discharging employees because of pregnancy in the future, as well as maintaining any policy which requires a pregnant employee to automatically obtain medical clearance to continue working. Simplicity must also provide live anti-discrimination training to certain employees, develop a written pregnancy discrimination policy to be distributed to all employees, and submit annual reports to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.
"Outdated notions about what pregnant women should and should not be doing persist," said EEOC trial attorney Miles Uhlar. "Employers cannot automatically force pregnant employees onto unpaid leave, nor automatically refuse to consider possible accommodations for them just because a job is considered physical, like lifting bags at the airport."
"Even one day of lost wages carries a significant impact for many prospective mothers," added Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. "The EEOC understands this and will continue to stand up to policies like the one employed by Simplicity in this case."
The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio.
The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.