NEW YORK – A restaurant group that includes Lucy’s Cantina Royale, a Mexican restaurant operating in Manhattan, unlawfully fired an employee because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
That restaurant group includes the managing companies Host Restaurants and Imian Partners; the Manhattan restaurants Bill’s Townhouse, Campagnola, Galli, Local NYC, Lucy’s Cantina Royale, and Printer’s Alley; and several unnamed restaurants in development.
The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that after becoming aware of a server’s pregnancy, Lucy’s Cantina Royale and Host Restaurants fired her. The server had had two pregnancy-related medical issues at work and then requested a day off for a medical appointment when they suddenly terminated her. They refused to tell her the reason for her discharge, the EEOC said, other than that she was no longer “a good fit.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The alleged conduct by the restaurant group violates this federal law. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (U.S. EEOC v. Red One Plaza, LLC d/b/a Lucy’s Cantina Royale, et al., Civil Action No. 20-cv-7766), after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC seeks injunctive relief requiring the restaurant group to revise its anti-discrimination policies to include Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and childbirth. The EEOC also wants the restaurant group to train employees on those protections. The EEOC seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the server as well. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Liane T. Rice, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Raechel Adams.
“Labelling an employee as ‘not a good fit’ is an all-too-frequent pretext for discrimination based on protected characteristics, including pregnancy,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein.
The EEOC’s New York District director, Judy Keenan, added, “Firing an employee because she is pregnant is plainly illegal, and can have profound emotional and financial effects, as occurred here, including the anxiety of providing for a growing family and finding new employment while pregnant.”
The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.