EEOC SUES SIMPLICITY GROUND SERVICES FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Pregnant Employees Forced on Unpaid Leave After Reporting Pregnancies, Federal Agency Charges

DETROIT – Simplicity Ground Services, P.C., an airline-ramp and cargo-handling company in Detroit, violated federal law by forcing an employee onto unpaid leave because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Raylynn Bishop was employed as a tow team driver for Simplicity Ground Services, a company responsible for transferring baggage on and off commercial flights at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport. As a tow team driver, her job primarily consisted of driving a vehicle, and her job description contained no lifting requirement. The EEOC alleged that upon learning that Bishop was pregnant and had a 20-pound lifting restriction, Simplicity informed her she must go on unpaid leave and attempted to make her sign an amended job description which added a 70-pound lifting requirement. Simplicity also forced other pregnant employees to take unpaid leave because they were pregnant and refused to accommodate their pregnancy-related lifting restrictions with light-duty work. Non-pregnant employees with similar restrictions, however, were routinely granted light duty.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:18-cv-10989 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Bishop and the other pregnant employees, as well as injunctive relief designed to end the discriminatory practice for the future.

“The EEOC’s investigation showed that pregnant employees were repeatedly treated as ineligible for light-duty assignments, a benefit that was otherwise a possible solution for temporary work restrictions,” said Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. “This case presents an opportunity to remind employers that they cannot exclude pregnant workers from a benefit available to others with similar work limitations, unless there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for doing so.”

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

EEOC AND THE PHILIPPINES RENEW HISTORIC NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP AND OUTREACH AGREEMENT TO FIGHT JOB DISCRIMINATION
Pact Advances Ongoing Collaboration to Combat Job Bias

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines have officially committed to continuing to work together to combat employment discrimination, the EEOC announced today. In a ceremony at the Philippine Embassy today, EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic and Philippine Ambassador to the United States José Manuel G. Romualdez signed the renewal of the national memorandum of under­stand­ing (MOU), first signed on Feb. 12, 2015, continuing the partnership between local consulates and EEOC field offices nation­wide. Under its terms, the EEOC and the Philippine Embassy will work together to regu­larly provide information on workplace discrimination through joint educational sessions to Philippine nationals.

“Filipinos and Americans share the crucial core values of freedom and fairness,” said EEOC Acting Chair Lipnic. “That’s why the EEOC and the Philippine government are renewing this agreement to cooperate to fight employment discrimination and advance justice and opportunity for Filipinos in this country.”

Ambassador Romualdez remarked, “We value this partnership as a vital component of our efforts to assist the over 3.9 million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the United States in protecting their rights and facilitating the creation of safer and fairer work environments. The Embassy looks forward to furthering our cooperation with the EEOC in ensuring that Filipino workers in the United States are treated fairly and accorded the rights due them under U.S. law.”

The agreement will carry forward the ongoing collaborative relationship between these two entities to provide Philippine nationals with information, guidance and access to education and training resources to help them exercise their workplace rights.

OFF THE AIR, II, INC. SETTLES EEOC PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION SUIT
Nick’s Sports Grill Fired Pregnant Bartender When She Couldn’t Fit Into Hot Pants, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS — Off the Air, II, Inc., which does business as Nick’s Sports Grill, a sports bar in Rowlett, Texas, will pay $24,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the mandatory uniform at Nick’s Sports Grill consisted of a tight, body-hugging shirt and short hot pants. The suit alleges that when Taylor King, a bartender, started wearing capri pants instead of the usual hot pants uniform and added a second layer of clothes to the usual tight top because of her pregnancy, the general manager told her that the owner would not approve, and forced her off the job.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Case No 3:16-CV-3328, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade on March 27, 2018, prohibits future discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it. Also, in addition to the monetary relief for King, the decree requires the company to disseminate specific parts of its employee handbook to all employees; provide annual training on pregnancy and other forms of discrimination; report all complaints of discrimination to the EEOC for the decree’s term; impose discipline up to termination on any manager who discriminates based on sex or permits such conduct to occur under his or her supervision; and post a notice on employee bulletin boards about the decree, explaining procedures for reporting discrimination.

“Even bars and clubs with provocative uniforms cannot discriminate by using the dress code requirement to oust a pregnant employee,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Toby Wosk Costas. “When the short, tight outfit no longer worked, Taylor King no longer had a job. She could have continued to work at Nick’s had she not become pregnant. Under civil rights laws, that’s pregnancy discrimination, which is a form of discrimination based on sex.”

King said, “Just because you look different as a pregnant woman, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your job. I want people to know that if you feel you are being discriminated against, you should do something about it.”

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “Expecting mothers typically need to continue to earn an income as their family grows. This is another example of how myopic views by some employers about the value of women in the workplace operate to limit opportunities to females who are perfectly qualified and able to work.”

The EEOC’s Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.

EEOC SUES WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR RETALIATION
School District Failed to Recall Teacher in Retaliation for His Age Discrimination Complaint, Federal Agency Charges

DETROIT— The Waterford Public School System, a school district located in Waterford, Mich., violated federal law when it failed to recall a tenured teacher back to work in retaliation for his having filed a charge alleging age discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a former history and social studies teacher was subjected to a layoff. Because the teacher believed he was laid off because of his age, he filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Since then, the school district has recalled other teachers to work full time and hired a full-time social studies teacher, but has not recalled this teacher to his former position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). After attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Waterford Public School System, Case No. 2:18-cv-11015). The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for the employee and an injunction prohibiting the school district from engaging in retaliation in the future.

“Employees who oppose discriminatory practices have the right to do so without incurring harm to their careers and their livelihood,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird.

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

EEOC SUES BEAVERS’ INC. / ARBY’S FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF TEEN WORKERS
Atmore Arby’s Management Ignored Ongoing Sexual Harassment Despite Repeated Employee Complaints, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Beavers’ Inc., doing business as several Arby’s franchises in the Southeast, violated federal law when it subjected several teenaged female employees at an Atmore, Ala., Arby’s to sexual harassment at its location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commi­ssion (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 30, 2018.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in May 2016, Arby’s hired a team leader trainee with a known history of sexual harassment who repeatedly pressured young female employees to have sex with him, and regularly used sexually graphic language to describe sexual acts he sought to perform on female emp­loyees and customers. The EEOC also alleges that the harasser deliberately touched one female employee in an unwelcome and sexual manner, and attempted to follow female emp­loyees home.

The EEOC further contends that these employees and others complained about the harass­ment up the chain of command to supervisors and managers, but Arby’s took no action for several months until the harasser physically injured one of the victims.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Beavers’ Inc., d/b/a Arby’s, Case No. 1:18-cv-00150) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after its Birmingham District Office, Mobile Local Office com­pleted an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Federal anti-discrimination laws exist to protect workers from this kind of abuse,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. “The EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly young, vulnerable workers. This kind of misconduct adversely affects not only the harassment victims themselves, but also the entire workforce, when timely and effective corrective action is not taken.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, and that obligation is not met solely by having a written policy. Employers must take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and act promptly to stop harassment of their workers.”

Beavers’ is a Florida corporation which owns and operates 51 Arby’s locations in the Florida panhandle, south Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.