HR Insights with Ali: Pregnancy Discrimination Can Be Costly
Posted on 10/18/2017 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
A recent EEOC lawsuit serves as a reminder to employers of the dangers of pregnancy discrimination. The insurance brokerage firm Brown & Brown will pay $100,000 in damages and has agreed to take additional remedial steps to settle a complaint filed by the EEOC. In this case, an applicant received a written job offer for a position with the firm and had begun discussing potential start dates. The applicant replied to the written offer and expressed her interest in the position. She inquired as to the maternity benefits offered by the firm and stated that she was pregnant. In response, the company rescinded the offer, stating that they needed someone who would be available immediately and for the long term.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws pregnancy discrimination. In layman’s terms, it is intended to prevent employers from treating pregnant and non-pregnant employees differently. In this case, all facts indicated that Brown & Brown considered this employee to be qualified and well-suited for the job. The only fact that changed between the issuance and rescission of the offer letter was the company’s discovery that the applicant was pregnant. Therefore, their decision to rescind the offer violated the applicant’s rights.
The takeaway from this case is that hiring and firing decisions should be taken very seriously when it comes to pregnant applicants and employees. Like any other medical condition, an applicant’s pregnancy can never be used as a basis for hiring or termination. As with any issue, employers should consult an attorney if they are concerned over the legality of any proposed action.