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EEOC's Fresno Office settles pregnancy discrimination suit

A lawsuit accusing a Fresno, California, facility of pregnancy discrimination has been settled in favor of the plaintiff. The suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed the facility was guilty of employment discrimination when it offered an applicant an executive assistant position with the company, and later rescinded that offer after learning she was pregnant.

The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces federal laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants and employees in their employment practices.

In December of 2010 the company, which supplies and processes agricultural products and food ingredients, rescinded the offer of employment shortly after the applicant disclosed she was pregnant. It promptly offered the position to a different candidate who was not pregnant. This violated the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was later amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, according to the EEOC.

After first attempting to reach a pre-suit settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit against the company in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of California in September 2011.

The company, along with its two subsidiaries, has settled the lawsuit for $140,000 in damages for the rejected applicant, as well as agreeing to designate an EEOC official who will develop appropriate procedures for the company to handle sex discrimination complaints. The company also agreed to provide annual Equal Employment Opportunity training to all of its employees throughout its six manufacturing plants in central and northern California, and will include specialized training for human resources staff and managers.

As reported in an earlier post, claims of pregnancy discrimination received by the EEOC are on the rise. At a recent hearing by the EEOC, a panel discussed ways to address the problem of sex discrimination in the workplace. If you feel you may have been discriminated against at work or when applying for employment, contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your experience. An attorney can inform you of your rights and the steps you can take to protect those rights.

Source: The Job Mouse, "Agricultural Supplier Olam Settles EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Suit for $140,000," Annaline Waldman, March 19, 2012

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