The nation's largest maternity clothes retailer has agreed to pay $375,000 to settle pregnancy discrimination claims brought by the EEOC. The Claims The EEOC alleged that Mothers Work, Inc. (doing business as Motherhood Maternity) refused to hire female applicants because they were pregnant. Motherhood Maternity is the leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of maternity fashion in the U.S., with more than 1,000 stores nationwide. One employee claimed that she was disciplined and ultimately fired because the company believed she was pregnant (and in retaliation for her complaints of pregnancy discrimination). Three others claimed they were denied employment opportunities due to their pregnancies. The Settlement The first employee received $135,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, $130,000 for attorneys' fees and $50,000 in back pay. The other three employees received $20,000 apiece in compensatory and punitive damages. The company also agreed to adopt, distribute and train all employees on an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits denying employment opportunities to pregnant women. "It is shocking that a corporation whose market is pregnant women would refuse to employ them and then retaliate against a woman who complained about the practice," said Nora Curtin, EEOC attorney. For more on this case, click here. What This Means for Employers Pregnancy claims continue to rise. As we discussed in our last webinar, the past year featured a distressingly large number of big-ticket pregnancy discrimination verdicts. The message is simple: please, please, please don't discriminate against pregnant employees. If you do, expect the EEOC to come after you aggressively.
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