Trinity Protection Services and CSI Corp. To Pay $42,000 to Resolve EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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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.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

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