Symphony of Joliet, a nursing home in Joliet, Illinois, is in the middle of a lawsuit alleging pregnancy and disability discrimination.
Symphony of Joliet, a rehabilitation and long-term residential care facility in Joliet, Illinois was recently hit with a lawsuit alleging it violated federal civil rights laws “by disadvantaging pregnant employees in various ways,” according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
When commenting on the matter, Julianne Bowman said an investigation revealed that “Symphony had a written policy that required pregnant women to disclose their pregnancies.” However, Bowman noted there “was no similar written policy requiring other, non-pregnant employees to disclose medical information.” To make matters worse, “pregnant employees were forced to get doctor’s notes indicating that they could work without restrictions, even if they were not asking for an accommodation.” Those who did happen to have restrictions “and who had not worked for Symphony for a year were fired, and Symphony categorized them as ineligible for rehire,” according to Bowman.
Bowman is the district director of the EEOC’s office in Chicago. She added:
“This kind of disparate treatment of pregnant employees backed up by written employment policies is unlawful discrimination, plain and simple.”
The nursing home’s policies regarding pregnancy discrimination violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a result, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Symphony. It’s important to note, however, that the federal agency first tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. The suit itself was filed in the U.S. District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking “full relief, including back pay, reinstatement for affected individuals, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Symphony’s practices going forward.”
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office chimed in on the case and said:
“Pregnant women are frequently subjected to harmful, paternalistic stereotypes…Pregnancy is no reason for an employer to assume that an employee cannot continue to work, nor is it a blank check for employers to seek invasive medical information or to subject pregnant employees to less favorable employment conditions than their non-pregnant co-workers.”
The EEOC is charged with advancing opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws designed to prohibit employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for “processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.”