Workers in the United States enjoy many legal protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. So, it is surprising that a Virginia Beach-based engineering firm and federal contractor would rescind its job offer to a pregnant candidate.
This is in direct violation of Title VII as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the woman, claiming she faced pregnancy discrimination.
DLS Engineering Associates, LLC, offered the position of engineering logistics analyst in its Jacksonville, Florida, office. The company VP then rescinded the offer when the new hire informed him that she was five months pregnant. Despite it being a clear violation of the law, the VP explained that the company would not hire someone who was pregnant.
The EEOC first tried to reach a pretrial settlement but then filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. The EEOC seeks back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the woman. Moreover, the suit also seeks injunctive relief to ensure that this type of discrimination does not happen again at DLS by training managers and supervisors to comply with equal employment opportunity laws.
The EEOC’s Miami District Office director, Paul Valenti, said, “A woman’s decision to work while she is pregnant rests solely with her. The EEOC remains steadfast in its commitment to take legal action against those who engage in pregnancy discrimination by forcing that decision.”
More protection hopefully on the way
There is also a bill entitled the Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act working its way through the U.S. Congress. The bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021 (315-101), and it now awaits action by the Senate.
Other pregnant employees can seek protections
Pregnancy discrimination can involve termination, failure to promote, and denial of accommodations for a temporary disability. Pregnant employees or job candidates who believe they face similar treatment that violates applicable state and federal laws should explore their legal options. Pregnant employees have the right to work even if ill-informed executives and managers believe otherwise.