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Chipotle forced to pay $550,000 in pregnancy discrimination lawsuit

On August 4, 2016, a Washington D.C. jury ordered Chipotle, the popular Mexican restaurant chain, to pay $550,000 for discriminating against a former employee due to her pregnancy. The plaintiff in the case, Doris Garcia Hernandez, was fired after enduring months of discriminatory acts at work.

Denying water breaks, bathroom breaks and doctors' appointments

Ms. Hernandez told her manager that she was pregnant in November of 2011. Upon this news, her manager began treating her differently than other employees. According to her testimony, she was barred from taking water breaks at work. Before using the bathroom, Ms. Hernandez was forced to tell all of her co-workers where she was going.

In January of 2012, Ms. Hernandez had a prenatal appointment that conflicted with one of her work shifts. She informed her manager, who refused to give her the shift off. After Ms. Hernandez went to the appointment, her manager fired her in front of other employees. Interestingly, Ms. Hernandez's performance reviews before announcing her pregnancy were all positive.

This has not been the first time Chipotle has discriminated against employees

Chipotle has been under fire throughout 2016 for discriminatory practices. In February, a federal grand jury found that Chipotle committed sex discrimination against three women who had risen to the rank of general manager. Chipotle paid $600,000 in damages to these women. Looking at these incidents, it is clear that Chipotle can do much more to foster a work environment free of discrimination.

Pregnant women in the workplace are protected under various federal and state laws against workplace discrimination. For instance, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (FDA) is a federal law that bars employers from treating pregnant women different in the workplace. This law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women. Maryland's sex discrimination laws also apply to pregnant women.

In response to this lawsuit, the District of Columbia City Council passed the "Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act." This law forces companies to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, such as water and bathroom breaks.

If you face discrimination in the workplace, an experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights. Employees and employers across Maryland and Washington D.C. have relied on Thatcher Law Firm to provide strategic, dynamic representation.

Source: Chipotle order to pay $550,000 for discriminating against pregnant worker, Washington Post, by Abha Bhattarai, August 9, 2016, Pregnancy Discrimination, EEOC.com

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