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Press Release 12-08-2020

Construction Company to Pay $38,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Company Revoked Job Offer When It Learned Applicant Was Pregnant, Federal Agency Charged

ST. LOUIS – The Harlan Company, a St. Louis-based construction company, will pay $38,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged that The Harlan Company violated federal discrimination law by failing to hire a job applicant for a receptionist position in June 2019 because she was pregnant.

According to the EEOC, the company interviewed the applicant and decided she was the best qualified person for an open receptionist position. The company offered the applicant the job and she accepted. The following day, the company learned she was pregnant. One day later, it revoked the job offer and hired another individual who was not pregnant.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The applicant filed a charge with the EEOC after learning of the alleged discrimination from an outside recruiter. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. The Harlan Company, Civil Action No. 4:20-cv-1395-AGF) in September 2020 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The three-year consent decree entered by Judge Audrey G. Fleissig requires The Harlan Company to pay lost wages and compensatory damages to the individual. In addition to other relief, the company will implement policies and procedures prohibiting pregnancy discrimination; amend its job application and website to prohibit pregnancy discrimination; provide training to its management employees; and report complaints of pregnancy discrimination to the EEOC.

We appreciate The Harlan Company’s cooperation in resolving this matter and its commitment to preventing pregnancy discrimination against both employees and job applicants going forward,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis. “Pregnant women make significant contri­butions to workplaces every day and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and unwarranted assumptions about their ability to perform the job.”

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “Hiring discrimin­ation is difficult to eliminate because applicants generally do not know the reason they were not hired. But here, an outside recruiter had the courage to come forward and state the applicant was not hired because she was pregnant. Justice depends on such individuals who are willing to speak out against discrimination.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.