Pregnancy is a difficult enough time on its own, but toss in workplace discrimination and it can wreak havoc on a woman’s emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination continues to occur in the U.S. at alarming rates, even as the #MeToo movement and women’s rights seem to be at the forefront of our society’s talking points. One woman working for Silverado Oaks Village found out first hand just how prevalent pregnancy discrimination still is, and after teaming up with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit which recently settled for $80,000.
What kind of pregnancy-related discrimination did the woman, Shaquena Burton, face while working as a “caregiver at the Silverado Oak Village facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin?” Well, according to the lawsuit filed on her behalf on August 22, 2017, the company “fired her rather than accommodate her pregnancy-related medical restrictions, which it could have done by putting her on light duty assignment.”
Silverado, which is a “network of memory care, at-home care, and hospice care centers,” pushed back against the allegations claiming there were no other positions it could have reassigned Burton to at the time. Whether the company’s claim was true or not, it’s actions were still illegal and the alleged conduct violated “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on pregnancy.”
It should be noted that, before filing the lawsuit against Silverado, the EEOC attempted to “reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process,” but that proved unsuccessful. Fortunately for Burton, the company did finally agree to an $80,000 settlement, which was approved by “U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on January 29.” Additionally, the settlement agreement “prohibits future discrimination and prohibits retaliation.” According to the settlement agreement, Silverado is also required to “post notices of the settlement, revise its anti-discrimination and record-keeping policies, report any requests for light duty or other job modifications periodically to the EEOC, and train its managers regarding those rights, obligations, and procedures.”
When discussing the settlement agreement, Gregory M. Gochanour, an attorney with the EEOC’s Chicago region, said:
“We thank Silverado for its commitment to settle this case before the sides incurred significant costs and its willingness to ensure a level playing field for its pregnant employees seeking job modifications, including light duty work, otherwise available to non-pregnant employees.”
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s District Director for the Chicago District Office added, “the EEOC will continue to enforce the federal laws so that all pregnant employees have the same opportunities as non-pregnant employees to contribute to our thriving economy.”