Massage Therapy Company Fired Employee Because She Was Pregnant, Federal Agency Charged
ORLANDO - Azul Wellness, LLC, doing business as Orlando Float, which provides massage therapy treatments, violated federal law by firing an employee because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, after the employee informed the owners of Orlando Float that she was pregnant, they conditioned her return to work on her providing a note from her doctor. The owners insisted that the doctor's note clearing her for work was "non-negotiable" and there was no flexibility with this policy, even though the employee was not requesting any accommodation. When the employee returned to work for her next scheduled shift, she was handed a termination letter dated three days after she informed Orlando Float about her pregnancy.
Firing an employee because of her pregnancy violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Azul Wellness, LLC, Case No. 19-cv-01689) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida only after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.
"Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination continues to be a real problem in the workplace," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "Employers cannot penalize women based on unfounded fears and discriminatory stereotypes about pregnancy."
Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC's Tampa Field Office, added, "Women should not have to choose between their job or having children. The EEOC will continue to fight for the right of women to be free from discrimination at work throughout their pregnancy."
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.