Illinois Rehab Care Center to Reinstate Pregnant Worker Under Terms of Settlement With EEOC

Employers continue to find themselves in legal hot water because they either don’t recognize or they ignore their responsibilities of fair treatment of pregnant employees.

Latest case in point is the EEOC’s announcement two weeks ago that it settled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against an Illinois convalescent center stemming from their treatment of a pregnant social worker. According to the EEOC, the administrator at  Midway Neurological & Rehabilitation Center, a provider of short- and long- term medical and rehabilitation care located in suburban Bridgeview, Ill., first reduced the hours of one of its social workers after learning she was pregnant, and then fired her while she was out on maternity leave.

Under the settlement agreed to by the parties, Midway must reinstate the employee and provide her monetary compensation in the form of a salary adjustment and repayment of nursing school loans.  The settlement also requires Midway to report to the EEOC for the next two years on all employee complaints of pregnancy discrimination, and to train all its employees at this location on the prevention and eradication of pregnancy discrimination.

“Pregnancy discrimination remains a problem,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.  “In too many workplaces too many times, employers are too quick to determine that the pregnant employee is the expendable employee.”

Perhaps next year there’s be less pregnancy discrimination. If employers at least aren’t so quick to fire a woman when she announces she is pregnant, that would be a start.

In 2015 we’ll likely see clarification of employers’ legal obligations under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to accommodate pregnant employees through light-duty or other less strenuous assignments as they would other employees with temporary impairments.  A case raising that question is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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