Ford Motor Company has settled a lawsuit accusing the automaker of rescinding a job offer after learning the applicant was pregnant.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the woman. Ford has agreed to pay $115,000 and provide other relief to settle the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
Not Hired Despite Being Cleared for Work
In June 2019, Ford Motor Company extended an offer to the applicant to work at its stamping plant in Chicago Heights, Ill., pending her successful completion of a physical, drug test, and background check. She passed each test and was cleared to begin work on Aug. 13, 2019. During her physical examination, she disclosed that she was pregnant.
Despite being cleared for work, Ford did not put her on the schedule for Aug. 13. She repeatedly called to inquire about her start date. This continued for two months. In late October, she was told Ford was no longer hiring.
Pre-Litigation Negotiations Failed
The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in September 2021 after attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement failed. The EEOC sought back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief. This settlement ends the lawsuit.
“Employers must treat pregnant applicants like any other applicant and cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman who is qualified for a job,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District.
In addition to the financial settlement, the two-year consent decree requires the following:
- Prohibits Ford from requiring additional medical documentation or releases from pregnant employees than it does from other employees
- Requires Ford to adopt procedures for notifying pregnant applicants or employees if it needs more medical information
- Requires Ford to provide anti-discrimination and harassment training
- Mandates Ford to adopt and maintain equal employment opportunity policies that include a robust complaint and investigation procedure
- Directs Ford to report complaints of pregnancy discrimination to the EEOC
The EEOC will monitor compliance throughout the two years the decree is in effect.
“No one should have to choose between motherhood and livelihood,” Bowman said. “Ford should be commended for agreeing to a consent decree early in this litigation and committing to ensuring that its managers and employees are trained on their rights and obligations under Title VII.”
Violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee unfavorably in any aspect of employment:
- Job Assignments
- Fringe Benefits
- Other Employment Terms/Conditions
The act also makes it illegal to retaliate against anyone who opposes employment practices that allegedly discriminate based on pregnancy or for filing a discrimination charge or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.
The EEOC received more than 2,600 pregnancy discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2020 and nearly 400 lawsuits were filed. Despite a drop in birth rate and COVID-related business closures, the 2020 lawsuits increased by more than 65% since 2016.
Seek Legal Guidance for Pregnancy Discrimination Claims
If you are experiencing any employment-related discrimination based on your pregnancy status, you do have paths to seek recourse. At Shellist Lazarz Slobin, our team focuses on all aspects of employment law. Based on the specifics of your case, we can draft a strong complaint with the EEOC to enforce your right to work free from discrimination. We will be by your side throughout the entire process.
We represent employees who experience a wide range of discriminatory work practices:
Fight back against prejudicial workplace treatment with the help of our team of skilled attorneys. Schedule a consultation by sending us an online message or calling (713) 352-3433.