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Irony: Motherhood Maternity settles pregnancy-bias suit

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in Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources,Maternity Leave Laws

The EEOC has signaled that it will aggressively pursue employers that discriminate against pregnant applicants or employees. One ironic example: Motherhood Maternity, the Philadelphia-based maternity clothing chain, has agreed to pay $375,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

The EEOC suit alleged that when a former assistant manager complained about discrimination against pregnant applicants, the company retaliated and ultimately fired her.

The settlement requires the parent company, Mothers Work, to pay the fired assistant manager $130,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 in back pay, plus another $20,000 to each of three pregnant applicants.

The company must also adopt and distribute an anti-discrimination policy and report back to the EEOC for two years on efforts to wipe out pregnancy discrimination. The company, which has more than 1,000 stores, sells maternity clothes under several other brand names, including A Pea in the Pod, Mimi Maternity and online at Maternitymall.com.

Nationwide, pregnancy-related complaints are on the rise: The EEOC received 3,385 in 1992 and 4,512 in 2005 (the latest figures available).

Advice: Remember, the EEOC sometimes uses “test” applicants to see if employers reject anyone due to a protected characteristic. Now’s a good time to remind your hiring managers about their obligations under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  

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