Convenience Stores Systematically Discriminated Against Pregnant Workers and Refused to Accommodate Their Pregnancy-Related Disabilities, Federal Agency Charged
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc., owners of over 300 convenience stores in New Mexico and Texas, has agreed to pay $950,000 to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Allsup’s managers and area supervisors subjected pregnant employees to different working conditions because of their pregnancies and/or their pregnancy-related disabilities. The EEOC alleged that Allsup’s subjected pregnant employees to negative comments about their pregnancies and gave pregnant employees less favorable tasks and shifts. For example, the EEOC said that some pregnant women were told, “You’re too pregnant to continue working,” “You are a liability,” “Had I known of your pregnancy, you would not have been hired,” and “Aren’t you ever going to quit having kids?”
The EEOC also alleged that Allsup’s denied reasonable accommodations to employees with pregnancy-related disabilities and put them on involuntary unpaid leave. The agency said that Allsup’s would not provide extended leave for pregnant employees on bed rest and would not provide reasonable accommodations like modified stocking methods for pregnant employees with lifting restrictions. The EEOC further alleged that Allsup’s had a policy of limiting medical leave and that Allsup’s fired pregnant employees when they ran out of medical leave without considering when they could return to work.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is incorporated into Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, makes discrimination based on pregnancy a form of sex discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination because of a disability, including a pregnancy-related disability.
The three-year consent decree settling the suit requires Allsup’s to pay $950,000 to 28 women who were discriminated against based on pregnancy or a pregnancy-related disability. Under the terms of the decree, the company must make offers of re-employment to the 28 women and provide them with letters of reference. In addition, the decree requires Allsup’s to implement policies and practices that will provide its employees a workplace free of discrimination. The company will also provide training on preventing pregnancy- and disability-related discrimination to its clerks, managers, area supervisors, and human resources employees to ensure that they understand the rights of employees to be free from pregnancy- and disability-related discrimination and how Allsup’s managers and staff can accommodate pregnant employees and employees with pregnancy-related disabilities.
“We see too many cases where employers think that pregnancy-related disabilities are not covered by the ADA,” said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers must understand that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 clarified that employees and applicants with pregnancy-related disabilities are protected from discrimination based on those disabilities. An employer cannot place an employee with a pregnancy-related disability on involuntary leave or fire her because of her disability or her pregnancy.”
Elizabeth Cadle, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “Pregnancy discrimination is far too common. In the 2016 fiscal year alone, 3,486 charges of pregnancy discrimination were filed with the EEOC. The outcome here should remind all employers of their obligations under the law and encourage them to respect the rights of pregnant employees.”
More information on the EEOC’s position on discrimination based on pregnancy and discrimination based on pregnancy-related disabilities is available at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).