EEOC: Exposure to Chemicals Not Proper Reason to Fire Pregnant Shop Apprentice

It’s not for the employer to decide if the work is too dangerous for a pregnant employee.

That’s what a furniture company in Dunn, North Carolina is accused of in the latest lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

According to the EEOC, the violation occurred at a temporary training facility run by Rooms to Go. The lawsuit alleges that the company hired Chantoni McBryde on June 1, 2015 and assigned her to work as a shop apprentice at the company’s temporary training facility in Dunn, N.C. The job required the use of various chemicals to repair furniture.

On June 3, McBryde informed the company’s shop trainer that she was pregnant. Later that same day, McBryde was pulled into a meeting with the company’s shop trainer, shop manager and regional shop manager and was asked to confirm that she was pregnant.

EEOC said that during the meeting, the regional shop manager showed McBryde a can of lacquer thinner that contained a warning that the contents could potentially pose a risk to a woman or her unborn child, and discussed the warning with McBryde. EEOC said that McBryde was then told that because she was pregnant, she could no longer work at the facility.

“Pregnant women have the right to make their own decisions about working while pregnant, including the risks they are willing to assume,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must not impose paternalistic notions on pregnant women as doing so can result in unlawful discrimination.”

Here’s today’s EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

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