BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Multi-South Management Services, LLC, a Memphis-based property management company, has agreed to pay $42,500 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging it failed to accommodate and then fired a pregnant employee with medical complications, the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the employee, the community director of a large apartment complex in Montgomery, Alabama, began having medical complications that made her high-risk for preterm labor. In January 2018, the same day Multi-South officially took over management of the complex, it fired her without warning or explanation. The employee, who had been employed in her position for over four years with no record of performance problems, was the only employee at the complex not retained by Multi-South. She was abruptly fired shortly after offering Multi-South’s management official a doctor’s note detailing her pregnancy-related limitations.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Multi-South Management Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00740-RAH-WC) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC sought back pay for the employee as well as compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
In addition to providing $42,500 in monetary relief, the thirty-month consent decree resolving the case prohibits Multi-South from discriminating against any applicant or employee due to sex (pregnancy) or disability in the future. Multi-South must also post a written notice to employees of their EEO rights, provide at least two trainings to all employees, and develop and communicate to all employees company policies designed to ensure a discrimination-free workplace.
“Employers must be aware of the intersection between the ADA and Title VII’s pregnancy discrimination prohibitions,” said Bradley Anderson, the EEOC’s district director for the Birmingham District Office. “This resolution should prompt all employers to review their anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies and practices to make sure they comply with both laws.”
“Employers should understand that pregnancy-related disabilities are covered by the ADA,” said EEOC Birmingham regional attorney Marsha Rucker. “An employer has a duty to reasonably accommodate an employee with pregnancy-related medical restrictions, and an employer must not fire an employee because of her pregnancy-related disability.”
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan is to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the ADA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties), and the Florida Panhandle.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.