·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Harlan Company, EEOC Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

— December 14, 2020

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Harlan Company recently announced an agreement to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Harlan Company, a construction company based in St. Louis, recently agreed to pay $38,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC, the company “violated federal discrimination law by failing to hire a job applicant for a receptionist position in June 2019 because she was pregnant.” In addition to the $38,000, the company must also furnish other relief.

Image of the EEOC seal
Seal of the EEOC; image courtesy of U.S. Government via Wikimedia Commons,

What happened, though? According to the lawsuit, the Harlan Company “interviews the pregnant applicant and decided she was the best-qualified person for an open receptionist position.” Eventually, they offered her the position and she accepted. The next day, the company discovered the applicant was pregnant and ended up revoking the job offer “and hired another individual who was not pregnant.” 

In filing the suit, the EEOC argued the company’s conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Prior to the lawsuit being filed, the applicant “filed a charge with the EEOC after learning of the alleged discrimination from an outside recruiter.” From there, the EEOC agreed to work with her and filed the lawsuit that was recently settled back in September 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

As part of the settlement, which was approved by Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, the Harlan Company must “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,” according to the three-year consent decree.

When commenting on the matter, Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis said:

“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…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, also chimed in and 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.”


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

Missouri Construction Company to Pay $38K to Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Join the conversation!