Pregnancy Bias Suit Settled for $300,000

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Britthaven, Inc., a Kinston, N.C.-based nursing home and assisted living chain, will pay $300,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

The EEOC had charged that Britthaven had, since at least 2002, subjected pregnant employees to different terms and conditions of employment than its non-pregnant employees. Specifically, the EEOC said that upon learning that an employee was pregnant, the company required her to obtain full medical clearance in order to continue working. As a result of this practice, Katherine Hance and other pregnant women were forced to take medical leave or were terminated despite the fact that they were fully capable of performing their job duties. Hance worked at the Carolina Commons facility in Greensboro. In addition to the Carolina Commons facility, Britthaven operates 53 other nursing and assisted living facilities in North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

"Working women who chose to have children, should not be penalized or treated differently than other employees simply because they are pregnant," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Employers must remember that paternalistic attitudes toward pregnant employees that result in unequal treatment at work violate federal law. The EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce workplace civil rights laws to remedy and eradicate pregnancy discrimination."

In addition to the $300,000 in back pay and compensatory damages that Britthaven will pay, the three-year consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Britthaven, Inc., Case No. 1:07CV00408 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina) includes injunctive relief enjoining Britthaven from engaging in pregnancy discrimination or retaliation and requires anti-discrimination training, the posting of a notice about the EEOC, and reports to the EEOC so that the agency can monitor requests for medical clearance made by the company.
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