EEOC Sues Annapolis Internal Medicine for Pregnancy Discrimination and Retaliation

Medical  Practice Fired Receptionist Who Complained About Pregnancy Discrimination, Federal  Agency Charges

BALTIMORE - A large Annapolis, Md.-based internal medicine  practice violated federal law when it fired a receptionist because of her  pregnancy and in retaliation for her complaints about pregnancy discrimination,  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it  announced today.

One day  after starting work at Annapolis Internal Medicine as a medical receptionist, Elizabeth  Rodriguez disclosed her pregnancy when the medical practice's clinical  supervisor was administering to her an influenza vaccination.  Despite Rodriguez's request not to tell  others of her pregnancy just yet, the clinical supervisor told the office  manager that Rodriguez was pregnant.  The  clinical super­visor then treated Rodriguez more harshly than other employees  because of her pregnancy, the EEOC charges. 

When  Rodriguez complained to the office manager about the adverse treatment, the  manager did not address the pregnancy discrimination complaint.  Instead, the manager reprimanded Rodriguez and  wrote in a counseling warning, that Rodriguez "… had to be honest about her  condition to us," and that the manager "was somewhat disappointed with her for  not letting me know about her condition," the EEOC said. 

The  clinical supervisor continued to treat Rodriguez more harshly, including  subjecting her to an unwarranted disciplinary action, verbal abuse and physical  intimidation, the EEOC said.  Annapolis  Internal Medicine terminated Rodriguez because of her pregnancy and in  retaliation for her complaints about the pregnancy discrimination, according to  the lawsuit.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964 as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Annapolis Internal Medicine, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-02831-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland,  Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.  In its  lawsuit, the EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the medical practice from  engaging in sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination, and  retaliation, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for Rodriguez,  and other affirmative relief.

"It is not somehow 'dishonest' if a woman does not reveal her pregnancy  during a job interview," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director  Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.  "The law is clear - a woman simply does not have to disclose her  pregnancy before or after being hired and an employer shall not make employment  decisions based on pregnancy."

EEOC  Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Every woman  has the right to equal employment opportunities.  Instead of addressing Ms. Rodriguez's  complaints about pregnancy discrimination, the medical practice compounded the  problem by retaliating against her and firing her, and that is why we filed  this lawsuit."

The Philadelphia District Office of  the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of  New Jersey and Ohio. 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination.  Further information  about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.