Press Release 01-25-2021

Awon Phie LLC D/B/A Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sued by EEOC for Firing Pregnant Employee

Employer Declared Employee Was a ‘Liability’ Due to Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charges

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Awon Phie LLC, doing business as the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Corpus Christi, violated federal law when it fired a temporary employee placed by a staffing company because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company’s operations manager told an employee that she noticed her stomach, referring to her being pregnant. The company’s operations manager told the employee she was a “liability” because of her pregnancy and fired her, stating that she could not allow a pregnant woman to work for the employer, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division (EEOC v. Awon Phie LLC d/b/a Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Case No. 2:21-cv-00012) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief, including requiring that the company revise its anti-discrimination policies to include Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

“It is important that employers understand that they cannot fire an employee simply because she is pregnant,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Esha Rajendran. “A pregnant employee who is ready, willing, and able to work has the right to continue to earn a living.”

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez added, “Firing an employee because she is pregnant is illegal and can have profound emotional and financial effects, as occurred here, including the anxiety of finding new employment while pregnant.”             

The San Antonio Field Office is part of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, which is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litiga­tion in Texas and parts of New Mexico.

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.