Residential Care Provider Refused to Keep Pregnant Worker on the Job Working Light Duty and Instead Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges
MILWAUKEE - Residential care provider Silverado violated federal law when it fired an employee rather than accommodate her pregnancy-related medical restrictions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The lawsuit was filed against Silverado Menomonee Falls, LLC, dba Silverado Oak Village, where Shaquena Burton worked, as well as Silverado's home office, called Silverado Senior Living, Inc.
"What our investigation indicated," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation, "is that Silverado fired its employee, Shaquena Burton, once it learned of her pregnancy and her need to perform light-duty work, rather than give her the light duty tasks it made available to its employees injured on the job."
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Silverado Menomonee Falls, LLC d/b/a Silverado Oak Village and Silverado Senior Living, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-1147 ) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Aug. 22 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Silverado's practices going forward.
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, said, "The Supreme Court made clear in Young v. UPS that if an employer provides light duty or other accommodations to a large proportion of non-pregnant workers while denying those opportunities to a large percentage of pregnant workers, the employer may be violating our nation's civil rights law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. In this case, Silverado deprived Ms. Burton of an accommodation that it consistently offered to its non-pregnant workers."
Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, added, "Shaquena Burton was willing and able to perform light-duty work. Instead, Silverado fired her, depriving her of an income at a time when she was growing her family and wanted to work. In terminating Ms. Burton, Silverado lost a talented worker committed to caring for Silverado's residents, and also violated the law."
According to company information, Silverado is a network of memory care, at-home and hospice care centers. The network, based in Irvine, Calif., has facilities in eight states across the country. Silverado operates two centers in Wisconsin, where Shaquena Burton worked.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
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.