EEOC Recovers $55K From Furniture Store That Wouldn’t Let Pregnant Employee Keep Working

It cannot be emphasized enough: The decision on whether to keep working during pregnancy is for the pregnant employee to make–not the employer–even if the boss has the best of intentions.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a furniture company operating in North Carolina didn’t follow that principle, and not it is $55,000 poorer.

That’s the price that the EEOC extracted from RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia, a Florida corporation that operates a chain of Rooms to Go furniture stores and distribution centers nationwide, as settlement for a pregnancy bias lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, 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 called into a meeting with the company’s regional shop manager and others and was asked to confirm that she was pregnant.

The 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. The 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 the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “If there may be a potential health concern, it is up to the woman and her doctors to evaluate. Companies must not impose paternalistic notions on pregnant women, as doing so can result in unlawful discrimination.”

You can learn more about the settlement terms herehere.

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