Security Companies Liable For Pregnancy, Disability Discrimination and Retaliation as Successors to Defendant-Employer DTM Corporation, Federal Agency Said
BALTIMORE - CSI Corporation of DC will pay $12,000 to resolve an EEOC lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination, unlawful medical inquiries and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today. This is in addition to the $30,000 already paid by Trinity Protection Services, Inc. to resolve its part of the lawsuit. Trinity and CSI will also provide equitable relief as part of the settlements.
The EEOC initially brought suit against DTM Corporation, a Maryland-based security services provider. After DTM filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy dissolution, the EEOC added Trinity and CSI as defendants, alleging that they were liable for the discrimination and retaliation as legal successor companies. Although Trinity and CSI never employed the victim in this case, the EEOC argued they were liable as successor companies because they had purchased DTM's assets, had common officers and employees with DTM (including the supervisor who had engaged in the alleged discrimination), had notice of the allegations against DTM before they purchased DTM's assets and had substantial continuity of DTM's business operations.
DTM's "Corporation Maternity Policy" required the suspension of pregnant employees without pay pending the receipt of a medical release. The EEOC alleged that DTM discriminated against Naima Ashigur, a contract security officer, by repeatedly suspending her and forcing her to obtain fitness for duty medical releases pursuant to its policy, even though she had provided medical clearances from her doctor. DTM also forced her to undergo medical examinations that were not job related and consistent with business necessity, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the EEOC alleged.
According to the lawsuit, Ashigur's supervisor made several comments showing a bias against pregnant workers, including speculating with coworkers whether Ashigur was pregnant, threatening that he wanted her off the contract because of her child bearing status and threatening that she "better not get pregnant again." The EEOC also alleged that a supervisor required Ashigur to hide in a restroom so that contracting officials would not see that she was pregnant.
The EEOC claimed that DTM retaliated against Ashigur because she had complained about her unlawful treatment during her pregnancy--first by denying her maternity leave and then refusing to allow her to return to work for several months, even though she was medically released to do so. The EEOC further alleged that when it eventually allowed her to return, DTM subjected her to heightened scrutiny, unwarranted discipline, and other harassment in continuing retaliation for her protected activity.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title VII, as amended by the PDA, requires that employers treat pregnant employees the same as other employees similar in their ability or inability to work, and prohibits employers from singling out pregnant employees for special procedures to determine their fitness for work. The ADA prohibits employers from requiring employees, even employees who do not have a disability, to undergo medical inquiries or examinations, unless the company can prove the medical inquiry or examination is job related and consistent with business necessity. Both laws prohibit employers from retaliating against an individual for filing a charge or opposing employment discrimination.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, (EEOC v. DTM Corporation, Trinity Protection Services, Inc., and CSI Corporation of DC, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-02433) after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement with DTM through its conciliation process.
The Consent Decree entered by the District Court on June 6, 2013, provides that CSI will pay $12,000 in monetary relief to Ashigur. Trinity already paid Ashigur $30,000 to resolve the EEOC's claims against it in a separate consent decree entered last year. Both decrees enjoin the companies from engaging in pregnancy discrimination, from subjecting pregnant employees to medical examinations and inquiries that are not job related and consistent with business necessity, and from engaging in unlawful retaliation. CSI will disseminate a memorandum to all employees that it will comply with Title VII and that DTM's prior maternity and pregnancy policies do not apply to CSI employees. CSI will provide four hours of training on Title VII and the ADA to all managerial and supervisory employees. Both companies will post a notice about the settlement.
"Pregnant employees who are able to do the job must be permitted to continue working and cannot be treated less favorably than non-pregnant employees," said Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "The law under the ADA is clear - absent an ability to prove job-relatedness and business necessity, companies cannot force pregnant workers to undergo increased scrutiny or onerous medical inquiries and examinations in order to keep working while pregnant. Moreover, under the PDA, employers must treat pregnant women the same as other employees 'similar in their ability or inability to work.'"
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the Commission to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.