Restaurant Terminated Pregnant Server, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE - Avalona Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Loafers Lounge in Catonsville, Md., violated federal law when it fired a server because she was seven months pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the lawsuit, April Terzi began working as a server at Loafers Lounge in 2012. In June 2014, Terzi told her manager that she was pregnant. Soon after, Terzi's manager repeatedly expressed concerns that her pregnancy could be a liability for Loafers. EEOC charged that the manager also told Terzi that the restaurant would not allow her to continue working past her seventh month of pregnancy because of its concerns. Despite her two-year tenure, Avalon terminated Terzi in October 2014, during her seventh month of pregnancy.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Avalon Enterprises Inc., T/A Loafers Lounge, Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-02514-JFM) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Common decency and the law require that pregnant employees be allowed to continue working as long as they are able to perform their jobs," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "Ms. Terzi was able to do her job, but was fired based on speculative fears and biases against pregnant workers."
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Federal law is clear -- an employer cannot fire a pregnant employee based on the employer's purported concern about the safety of the mother or fetus."
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Its legal staff also prosecutes discrimination cases arising in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.