Dallas Suburb Steakhouse Fired Employee Due to Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - Arthur's Restaurant and Bar, a fine dining steakhouse and lounge in Addison, a suburb of Dallas, will pay $20,000 to a former cocktail server to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC alleged that the restaurant unlawfully fired cocktail server Jennifer Todd on August 8, 2012, during her seventh month of pregnancy. She was fired when the company told her it decided she should begin her maternity leave early.
Arthur's claimed they acted out of concern for the health of the mother and baby. Todd was fired soon after Arthur's owner made a comment to her saying she was "starting to show."
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which prohibits employers from firing an employee due to pregnancy, or requiring them to take maternity leave while still able to work. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Restaurant & Bar Arthurs, Ltd., et al., Civil Action No. 3:14-CV-03033-N) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the voluntary conciliation process.
As part of the consent decree settling the case, Arthur's agreed to implement training and post notices in each of its restaurants informing employees about pregnancy or gender discrimination. The company also agreed to report to the EEOC any employee pregnancy discrimination complaints during the 5-year term of the decree.
"Arthur's arbitrary decision to terminate Ms. Todd simply because she was nearing the delivery of her child was an outdated approach resulting in an unnecessary denial of income important to an expanding family," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC Dallas District Office. "Expectant mothers should not be fired simply because of unsubstantiated employer fears about 'a liability'. It is quite natural and certainly reasonable for pregnant employees to continue working as long as they are able and willing."
Suzanne Anderson, Supervisory Trial Attorney of the Dallas District Office of the EEOC, said the Commission was pleased to resolve this case through settlement. "The EEOC obtained monetary relief for Ms. Todd and non-monetary relief on behalf of the public."
Since the start of FY 2011, the Commission has filed more than 45 lawsuits involving claims of pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has recovered approximately $3.5 million -- as well as important
injunctive and other case-specific "make whole" relief -- for victims of pregnancy discrimination through its litigation program.
The Commission recently issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, along with a question and answer document about the guidance and a fact sheet for small businesses.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.