After being accused of discriminating against a pregnant employee, Polaris Guam, otherwise known as Verona Resort and Spa, has responded to the “lawsuit filed against them…denying the allegations and claiming the pregnant employee wasn’t fired but that she quit on her own.” The lawsuit against the resort was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in District Court earlier this year on behalf of the “former employee who was allegedly fired because she was pregnant.” So what happened?
According to the lawsuit, the former employee claims that back in 2014, “she informed her employer that she was pregnant” and was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Because of her diabetes, she requested a chair for when she worked at the front desk of the resort. Seems like a simple enough request. However, instead of supplying the woman with a chair, she was “transferred to a different department” entirely. Shortly after the transfer, she was transferred back to the front desk, without a chair.
Before being transferred back to the front desk, the lawsuit claims the woman had a feeling the transfer would happen, so she procured “a note from her doctor indicating that she had gestational diabetes and would need to sit during parts of her shift and wear open-toed shoes” and gave the note to her supervisor. Now, in many cases, employers will take doctor’s notes into consideration, especially regarding pregnant employees and will make an effort to provide any needed accommodations. Unfortunately for the pregnant resort employee, Verona Resort and Spa had other ideas.
Only days after providing her bosses with the doctor’s note, the “defendant discharged the charging party, noting as the reason for termination that the charging party’s pregnancy impacted her ability to perform her duties,” according to the lawsuit.
So how did the resort respond to the lawsuit and allegations? Well, “in addition to claiming the employee quit on her own,” Verona Resort and Spa claims the woman “contributed to her situation, calling it ‘comparative negligence’ and ‘contributory negligence.’” According to court documents, the resort also stated the following:
“The charging party’s own negligence or that of third parties or other events were the superseding or intervening cause of any damages and injuries charging party may have sustained and charging party may not recover against the defendant.”
It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, and what it will mean for other pregnant women in the workplace.