DETROIT – The WW Group, Inc. d/b/a Weight Watchers violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant as a group leader because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The job seeker, a long term client of Weight Watchers who had successfully met and maintained her weight goals, was encouraged to apply for the group leader position by her own Weight Watchers group leader. When Weight Watchers discovered she was pregnant, it told her that it did not hire pregnant women and refused to consider her further for the job, the EEOC alleged.
Refusing to consider a woman for a job because she is pregnant violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit against Weight Watchers in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, (EEOC v. The WW Group, Inc., d/b/a Weight Watchers International, Inc., Case No. 2:11-cv-14220) after first attempting to settle the matter. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the applicant along with injunctive relief intended to prevent further instances of pregnancy discrimination.
“Maintaining a blanket policy against hiring pregnant women is a clear violation of the law,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell. “The EEOC will vigorously enforce a pregnant woman’s right to be considered for a job.”
The WW Group, Inc. owns and operates Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE: WTW) franchisees. The WW Group, Inc. was founded in 1968 and is based in Farmington Hills, Mich. It operates outlets in Michigan and in Canada.
The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.