Massage Therapy Company Fired Employee Because She Was Pregnant, Federal Agency Charged
ORLANDO, Fla. - Azul Wellness, LLC, doing business as Orlando Float, and Orlando massage therapy company, will pay $27,000 and provide equitable relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged that Orlando Float fired an employee because of her pregnancy.
The EEOC charged that Orlando Float required all pregnant employees to obtain a doctor's note, regardless of whether the employee was requesting any accommodation in her job duties, responsibilities or schedule. It was the employer's position that providing massages might be a safety risk for pregnant women and their unborn children. When the employee expressed concern over having to submit a doctor's note, she was terminated on her next scheduled shift.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed its suit lawsuit (Civil Action No. 19-cv-01689) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, the five-year consent decree settling the suit contains substantial equitable relief, including prohibitions against unlawful discrimination; an injunction prohibiting Orlando Float from continuing to require a doctor's note from all pregnant employees; four hours of annual, live training for all management and human resources personnel; new policies that prohibit discrimination; bi-annual reporting on any employee who reports pregnancy discrimination; changes to its job advertisement and application materials; and the posting of a notice regarding this settlement.
"This case is an important reminder of the Supreme Court's holding that the decision whether a pregnant woman should work rests solely with her," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami District Office. "She, and not the employer, is responsible for making decisions that affect her safety and that of her child."
Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC's Tampa Field Office, added, "The EEOC commends Orlando Float for its cooperation in resolving this case and for taking steps to ensure that other women in the workplace will not be forced to choose between parenthood and a livelihood."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.