U.S. Military Contractors Discriminated Against Employee Based on Her Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charges

Thursday, February 7, 2019

HR Classroom Training Tips: Training of supervisors and employees in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pregnancy Discrimination ActJACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc. and Sunrise Beach Corporation, doing business as M2 Services Corporation, U.S. military contractors, violated federal law when they sub­jected a pregnant employee to discrimination, forcing her to take an unpaid leave of absence and ultimately firing her because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Day & Zimmermann and M2 provide aviation and heavy vehicle maintenance, modification, painting, component repair, and overhaul services to the military at National Air Station Jacksonville. The employee was responsible for cleaning aircraft parts and was potentially exposed to dirt, dust, fumes, grease, oils and cleaning agents, along with various hazardous metals and coatings.

In January 2016, the employee advised M2 of her pregnancy. Almost immediately thereafter, M2 placed her on an involuntary and unpaid leave of absence, requiring her to obtain medical authorization before returning to work. Even after she was medically cleared to return to work by her own treating medical professionals, M2 still refused to allow her to return and, in March 2016, the company fired her, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act adds that Title VII includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on pregnancy and related medical conditions.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division (EEOC v. The Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc. and Sunrise Beach Corporation, d/b/a M2 Services Corporation, Case No. 3:19-cv-127-J39-MCR), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the discrimination victim, along with injunctive relief to prevent similar discrimination in the future.

"Employees must be free from discrimination based on sex and pregnancy in the workplace," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District, which includes Jacksonville within its jurisdiction. "It is not for employers to decide whether pregnant women may continue working during their pregnancies - that decision must be made by the employee."

Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC's Miami District, said, "No one should be subjected to pregnancy discrimination at their place of work. The EEOC stands with victims of discrimination and remains committed to eradicating it from the workplace."

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