Press Release 03-24-2021

Lucy’s Cantina Royale and Restaurant Group to Pay $45,000 to Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Employer Fired Worker After Pregnancy-Related Medical Issues, Federal Agency Charges

NEW YORK – A restaurant group that includes Lucy’s Cantina Royale, a Mexican restaurant and bar in Manhattan, has agreed to pay $45,000 and provide extensive non-monetary relief to settle a preg­nancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. That restaurant group includes the managing companies Host Restaurants and Imian Partners; the Manhattan restaurants Bill’s Townhouse, Campagnola, Galli, Local NYC, Lucy’s Cantina Royale, and Printer’s Alley; and several unnamed restaurants in develop­ment.

The EEOC’s lawsuit asserted that the restaurant group fired a server working at Lucy’s Cantina Royale after it learned of her pregnancy and she had several pregnancy-related medical issues at work. No reason was provided for her sudden termination except that she was no longer “a good fit.” Although the employee had signed an arbitration agreement that may have prevented her from filing her own claim in federal court, such agreements do not bar EEOC enforcement actions.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects emp­loyees from workplace discrimination based on pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (U.S. EEOC v. Red One Plaza, LLC d/b/a Lucy’s Cantina Royale, et al., Civil Action No. 20-cv-07766) after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. This case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Liane T. Rice and supervised by Acting Supervisory Trial Attorney Sara Smolik.

On March 23, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield entered a two-and-a-half-year consent decree that resolves the case. The decree provides $45,000 for back pay, emotional dis­tress and other damages suffered by the discharged employee. The decree also includes substantial non-monetary relief, including revisions to anti-discrimination policies, trainings for managers and emp­loyees, a monitoring period, and periodic reporting to the EEOC.

“Federal law protects the job security of pregnant employees,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “Employers must allow a pregnant employee to continue working as long as she is willing and able to work.”

The EEOC’s New York District Director, Judy Keenan, added, “Employees should also be aware that signing an arbitration agreement does not bar them from filing with a claim with EEOC.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

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.