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Press Release 09-29-2021

EEOC Sues A.V.I. Sea Bar & Chophouse for Pregnancy Discrimination

Termination of Hostess Violated Federal Law, Suit Charges

ST. LOUIS – A.V.I. Sea Bar & Chophouse LLC, a restaurant and catering company in Wichita, Kansas, violated federal law when it fired a hostess because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the restaurant, A.V.I. Seabar & Chophouse, hired Macee Hoffman in December 2018 to work as a hostess and learned shortly thereafter of her pregnancy. As Hoffman’s pregnancy progressed, she had pregnancy-related health issues, including feet swelling and back pain. Hoffman asked her manager if she could use a stool as needed between customers and when she was not doing other tasks that required standing. Although the restaurant initially approved her request, she was later told she could no longer use the stool after one of the owners visited the restaurant and commented that Hoffman’s use of a stool “did not look good.” When Hoffman produced a physician’s note supporting her use of a stool, the restaurant fired her, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, including pregnancy. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. A.V.I. Sea Bar & Chophouse LLC, Civil Action No. 2:21-cv-2428) in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. It alleges the restaurant violated Title VII by terminating Hoffman’s employment because she was pregnant. The EEOC seeks monetary relief for Hoffman, an order prohibiting future pregnancy discrimination, and other relief.

“In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to amend Title VII and clarify that unlawful sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy and related medical conditions,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “More than 40 years later, pregnant workers experience discrimination on the job far too often as they seek to provide for themselves and their growing families.”

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, added, “Protecting pregnant workers from illegal discrimination is a high priority for the EEOC.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sex 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.