Job Offer Rescinded After Company Learned of Applicant's Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
MIAMI - A Daytona Beach-based insurance brokerage firm violated federal law by rescinding a job offer to a woman because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's suit, Brown & Brown, which owns and operates 180 offices across the United States, made a written employment offer to the applicant and also sent her an employment agreement for a "personal lines technical assistant" position at its Daytona Beach location. The company proposed start dates of either March 30 or April 6, 2015. Upon receipt of the offer letter, the applicant emailed the department leader, affirming her interest and seeking to ask a few questions regarding the offer. About two hours later, the applicant spoke with the department leader's assistant and inquired about maternity benefits because she was pregnant. The assistant immediately advised the department leader of the applicant's pregnancy and, minutes later, the applicant received an email rescinding the job offer because, according to Brown & Brown, it "had a very urgent need to have somebody in the position long term …We appreciate you telling us beforehand."
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (EEOC v. w Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., Case No. 6:16-cv-1326-ORL18-DAB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the applicant. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent and correct pregnancy discrimination, the posting of anti-discrimination notices, and training of Brown & Brown's managers and employees about federal equal employment opportunity laws.
"Pregnant women have the right to seek jobs and not be denied employment because they are pregnant," said Robert Weisberg, EEOC's Miami regional attorney. "The federal law which prohibits pregnancy discrimination against pregnant employees also applies to pregnant applicants. EEOC continues, with this suit, to seek vigorous enforcement of the laws that protect all women from this kind of intentional and harmful discrimination."
Michael Farrell, director of the Miami District Office added, "Pregnant women have the right to seek employment free of discrimination and EEOC remains steadfast in its commitment to take legal action against employers who employ such tactics."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.