Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced that it settled a federal lawsuit filed against the Chicago Board of Education alleging pregnancy discrimination against teachers. The lawsuit alleged a pattern of discrimination against pregnant teachers that resulted in the women receiving lower performance evaluations and threats of termination.
The lawsuit stems from complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a group of teachers at Scammon Elementary School in Chicago. The teachers alleged that from 2009 until 2012, the Principal took actions to oust eight teachers who became pregnant or returned to work after their pregnancies.
According to the settlement terms, the employer must pay $280,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to the teachers. In addition, the Board of Education agreed to change its personnel policies to protect against discrimination based on gender and pregnancy. The Board also agreed to establish training requirements that reinforce a commitment to a workplace without gender-based discrimination.
This case settlement demonstrates the high price for employers arising from employment discrimination lawsuits. Employers need to be aware of the rights afforded pregnant employees in the workplace. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. The PDA prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any other aspect of employment including pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, termination or any other term or condition of employment.
Employers should also be aware of the other employment laws which may afford an employee additional rights during pregnancy and after childbirth such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These topics will be covered in the Workplace Report in the coming new year.
Ancel Glink’s team of labor and employment attorneys are available to help guide employers through the maze of employment laws impacting today’s workplace. Ancel Glink also provides training to human resource and management professionals on the current laws and other legal requirements that govern your day-to-day operations.