Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and a Florida employer reached a $100,000.00 settlement stemming from a discrimination claim by a pregnant job applicant who alleged her offer was pulled because of her pregnancy. The applicant, Nicole Purcell, contended that the employer formally offered her a job in March 2015. After receiving the job offer, Purcell called the employer’s office and asked to speak with a department head. She told the department head she was pregnant, and asked about the employer’s maternity policy. Less than half an hour later, the employer pulled Purcell’s offer, explaining that they had a very urgent need to have somebody in the position long term.
The EEOC said that the employer violated the law by assuming that Purcell could not perform the duties asked of her. The employer was required under the law to assume that a pregnant employee could perform the job until proven otherwise, or until the employee asks for an accommodation due to her pregnancy.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
It is important employers do not make assumptions about a pregnant applicant or employee’s ability to perform essential job functions, as the employer in this example did. Here, the employer assumed that a pregnant employee, who would require a maternity leave and would be busy with childrearing duties, would be less capable. Instead of talking with the applicant and engaging in an interactive process, as required by law, the employer made a snap decision that resulted in having to shell out six-figures to someone who did not work a single day for the employer. If you have questions about your Company’s hiring practices, maternity leave policy, or questions about how to respond to reasonable accommodation requests, please contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group.