EEOC Sues Ford for Pregnancy Discrimination

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

Automaker Made a Conditional Offer of Hire to a Pregnant Applicant but Failed to Hire Her Even Though She Was Qualified and Passed a Company Physical, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO – Automaker Ford Motor Company violated federal law when it refused to hire a pregnant applicant to work at its stamping plant in Chicago Heights, Illinois, due to her pregnancy the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in Chicago yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female applicant received a conditional offer of hire in June 2019 to work at the Chicago Heights stamping plant, subject to passing a physical, drug test, and background check. During her pre-employment physical with a Ford physician in August 2019, the woman disclosed she was pregnant. Ford’s doctor cleared her for hire, but Ford did not schedule her for her first day of work. The woman repeatedly called Ford to find out when she would begin working and was given various answers, until she was told in late October 2019 Ford was no longer hiring.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against applicants or employees because of their sex, including pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ford Motor Co., Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-05089) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

“Employers must treat pregnant applicants like any other applicant and cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman who is qualified for a job,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “Enforcing the ban on pregnancy discrimination is critical to ensuring equal employment opportunities for women and an important priority for the EEOC. Pregnant women should be considered for employment based on their actual abilities, not baseless assumptions about possible inabilities or restrictions.”

The EEOC’s legal team in its Chicago and Minneapolis offices will conduct the litigation, under the management of the Chicago District Office. That office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at 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.

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