Pet Waste Removal Company Fired Pregnant Worker, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE - Charlottesville, Va.-based DoodyCalls, a leading pet waste removal company, violated federal law when it fired a pregnant worker because of her pregnancy and disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the suit, shortly after she was hired by DoodyCalls' Rockville, Md., facility, a pet waste technician, whose duties included visiting residential and commercial sites to collect and dispose of pet waste, advised the operations manager that she was pregnant. After a few weeks of employment, the technician underwent emergency cervical surgery needed to continue the pregnancy to full term.
When the female technician advised the operations manager one week later that the doctor had released her to return to work, the operations manager expressed concern about her performing the job because she had a high-risk pregnancy. The female technician explained that she would avoid lifting over 20 pounds and that she would take a five- to ten-minute break after six hours of walking. She had previously successfully performed her job removing waste in ten-pound increments, and there was nothing in the job description which required walking for a straight six hours without a break. Never¬theless, the operations manager fired her and told her that he was concerned about the company's liability and that she could seek re-hire after her pregnancy, according to the suit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. DoodyCalls, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:19-cv-02757) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"The decision of whether a pregnant woman can work should be reserved for the individual woman to make for herself, not the employer," said Jamie R. Williamson, director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Federal law is clear- an employer may not fire a pregnant woman based on the employer's supposed concerns about the safety of the mother or unborn child. A pregnant woman who can do the job, as was the case here, has the right to continue to earn a living."
According to company information, DoodyCalls is the nation's leading pet waste removal service for dog owners and the first pet waste management company and franchise of its kind.
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan is to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
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.