Quest Denied Work to Female Officer After Maternity Leave, Federal Agency Charges
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - West Sacramento security services company Quest Intelligence Group violated federal law when it refused to allow a female security officer to return to work after maternity leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, when security guard Tabitha Feeney contacted Quest to schedule her return to work after taking leave to have a baby, she was told that there was no work for her and that she would be called if work became available. Feeney had worked for Quest for about one year prior to her leave. The company never contacted her, yet the EEOC's investigation showed that Quest solicited applications for security guard positions and hired several males within weeks of Feeney's request to return to work.
"Losing my job and facing a brand-new job search right after giving birth was incredibly stressful," said Feeney. "I had a new baby to support and no income. I had planned on going back to my job, and it was devastating to lose that."
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Quest Intelligence Group, LLC, Civil Action No. CV 2:12 01277) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The agency seeks lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages on behalf of Feeney, as well as injunctive relief such as training for company managers and employees, and compliance monitoring by the EEOC.
"Pregnant employees must be able to take maternity leave without danger of losing their job," said EEOC Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. He noted that pregnancy discrimination continues to be an issue for working women. The number of charges filed with the EEOC alleging pregnancy discrimination averaged about 6,000 for the fiscal years 2007 to 2011.
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado said, "The EEOC has seen pregnancy- and caregiving-related claims increase along with the economic crisis, and so we will vigorously defend workers' rights in this area."
He noted that in February the EEOC held a public meeting in Washington concerning discrimination against pregnant women and workers with caregiving responsibilities. Material from this Commission meeting can be found at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-15-12/index.cfm.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.