Orlando Float, a massage therapy company based in Orlando, recently settled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit for $27,000.
For many women, working while pregnant is a financial necessity. After all, bills don’t just magically go away for nine months. Unfortunately, sometimes women face pregnancy discrimination in the workplace that sometimes results in them losing their jobs. That’s what happened to one woman working Azul Wellness, LLC, doing business as Orlando Float. Orlando Float is an Orlando-based massage therapy company that fired an employee over her pregnancy. Fortunately for the employee, the company recently agreed to settle a pregnancy discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $27,000.
What happened, though? How exactly did Orlando Float discriminate against the employee? For starters, the EEOC lawsuit claimed Orlando Float “required all pregnant employees to obtain a doctor’s note, regardless of whether the employee was requesting any accommodation in her job duties, responsibilities, or schedule.” According to the lawsuit, Orlando Float believed that “providing massages might be a safety risk for pregnant women and their unborn children.” When the pregnant employee pushed back and expressed concern over having to obtain a doctor’s note, “she was terminated on her next scheduled shift.”
As a result of the alleged discrimination, the EEOC alleged Orlando Float violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and decided to file a suit against the company in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Before filing the suit, the EEOC attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, but those efforts failed.
In addition to the $27,000 settlement, Orlando Float must also implement policies to prevent unlawful discrimination in the future. Additionally, the company can no longer require a doctor’s note from its pregnant employees and must provide “four hours of annual, live training for all management and human resources personnel.” On top of that, Orlando Float must submit bi-annual reports “on any employee who reports pregnancy discrimination” and must make “changes to its job advertisement and application materials.”
When commenting on the recent settlement, Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC Miami District Office said:
“This case is an important reminder of the Supreme Court’s holding that the decision whether a pregnant woman should work rests solely with her. She, and not the employer, is responsible for making decisions that affect her safety and that of her child.”
Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC’s Tampa Field Office, also chimed in and said:
“The EEOC commends Orlando Float for its cooperation in resolving this case and for taking steps to ensure that other women in the workplace will not be forced to choose between parenthood and a livelihood.”