Assisted Living Facility Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Suit for $30,000, Training Ordered

Monday, April 11, 2011

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Murphy Healthcare III, LLC, owner and operator of the Frankston Healthcare Center, an assisted living facility in Frankston, Texas, will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Myesha Kerr, a Frankston Healthcare Center housekeeper, was fired soon after her supervisor learned that Kerr was pregnant. This supervisor told the EEOC that he never would have hired Kerr had he known of her pregnancy, because he believed Kerr might injure herself by working.

“Although pregnancy-related terminations are sometimes said to be based on feelings of paternalism or concern, employers should comply with federal anti-discrimination law by deferring to the mother and her physician about her ability to work with or without any restrictions,” said Meaghan Shepard, the trial attorney handling the case for the EEOC. “The result of the employer’s actions in this case was to deprive a working mother of an income.”

Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 6:10-cv-00490-LED) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, dated March 31, 2011, provides $30,000 to Kerr. Murphy Healthcare will also establish and implement practices and programs that provide equal employment opportunities for women, including a written handbook that makes specific reference to pregnancy discrimination. In addition, for the decree’s three-year duration, Murphy Healthcare must train all management officials on Title VII’s employment provisions, post a notice of non-discrimination in its facilities, and notify the EEOC any time it terminates a pregnant employee.

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