Boss Told Female Bartender That Her Pregnant Belly Would Be Bad for Business
Women secretly recorded her boss during termination meeting
Despite laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), every year thousands of women claim that they were fired or forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. In 2015 alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 3,500 complaints of pregnancy discrimination.
However, that number only reflects the women who decided to step up and make a formal complaint. It’s likely that many more women who are subjected to unlawful behavior don’t pursue any legal remedies.
And what happens then? The victim is left to pick up the pieces on her own, and the employer gets the message that it’s OK to mistreat women.
Let’s take a look at a recent case in which an employee was fired because of her pregnancy, and then talk about pregnant women’s rights under the law.
Customers Wouldn’t Like It
Michelle Viscusi, a bartender at the Moonshine Whisky Bar and Grill, was thrilled when she found out that she was pregnant.
However, she was also concerned about what would happen when she told her managers the news. She delayed speaking with them, but shared her secret with a few coworkers. Unfortunately, someone informed the restaurant owners that Viscusi was expecting before she had a chance to tell them herself.
Viscusi was called into a meeting. One of the owners explained that having a pregnant woman working behind the bar would look bad for the company. He stated that customers might assume that the owners were irresponsible for letting a pregnant woman bartend.
Viscusi replied that she was “pregnant, not handicapped” and stated that she could still perform her job duties.
She was fired anyway.
Viscusi filed a complaint with the EEOC. The agency attempted to contact her former employer, but the company refused to respond.
Finally, the EEOC held a default hearing on the complaint.
At the hearing, Viscusi produced a recording she’d made of her termination meeting. One of the company owners states, “Do you want to be showing your belly behind a bar? This is not being prejudiced against it; it’s me looking at things how other people can see it. There’s gonna be a whole number of people that I would be offending by allowing a pregnant person to be behind a bar. They might look at it as the owners are [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][expletive] idiots; they’re letting a girl that’s pregnant, that she could get injured behind the bar, bartend right now?”
The judge declared the company’s behavior “deplorable.” It ordered the Moonshine Group to pay over $66,000, including $41,647 to Viscusi for back pay and damages, and $25,000 for management conduct training.
(The case discussed here is EEOC v. The Moonshine Group.)
What employees need to know
Terminating an employee because she’s pregnant may be a fairly obvious form of discrimination. However, it’s important to know that pregnancy discrimination can encompass a wide variety of actions that may result in lost opportunities, compensation, or benefits for female employees.
According to a fact sheet from EEOC, common patterns of pregnancy discrimination include:
- refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, or firing pregnant workers after learning they are pregnant;
- discharging workers who take medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions (such as a miscarriage);
- limiting employment opportunities for pregnant women, such as by placing them on involuntary leave, refusing to let them continue working beyond a certain point in the pregnancy, reducing work hours, or limiting work assignments due to employer safety concerns;
- requiring medical clearances not required of non-pregnant workers;
- failing to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions where similar accommodations are or would be provided to non-pregnant workers;
- refusing to allow lactating mothers to return to work; and
- retaliating against employees—or those close to pregnant employees—who complained about pregnancy discrimination.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
If you believe that you’ve been discriminated against because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney who has experience fighting for women’s rights.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.