Rural/Metro to Pay $55,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

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

EMS Company Denied Accommodation to Pregnant EMT, Federal Agency Charged

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando-based Rural/Metro Corporation of Florida, doing business as American Medical Response, Rural/Metro Corporation, and Lifefleet Southeast, Inc., who provide emergency medical services (EMS), have agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the defendant companies violated federal law when they refused to provide a pregnant emergency medical technician with a pregnancy-related disability with a reasonable accommodation such as light duty, even though such accommodations were provided to other employees similar in their ability or inability to work.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s sex, including pregnancy, or an employee’s disability, including pregnancy-related disabilities. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Rural/Metro Corporation of Florida, d/b/a American Medical Response, et al, Civil Action No. 6:20-cv-1678-Orl-40EJK), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree resolving the EEOC’s lawsuit has been approved by the federal court. In addition to paying the $55,000 in monetary relief, the defendant companies will adopt a policy making pregnant employees who are unable to work at their position due to medical restrictions based on their pregnancy eligible for a light duty position at the Orlando facility. The companies will also provide training on Title VII and the ADA to human resources personnel, managers and employees, and report to the EEOC on future complaints of sex or disability discrimination. In addition, the EEOC can conduct interviews of the defendants’ employees and request documents to ensure compliance with the decree.

“When employers provide light duty positions to employees unable to work at their position because of medical restrictions, but refuse to provide those accommodations to pregnant employees similarly unable to work at their present position, they violate federal law,” said EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. “The EEOC is pleased that, going forward, pregnant employees with lifting restrictions will be afforded the same opportunity to work at a light duty position as other employees.”

EEOC Miami District Director Paul Valenti added, “Employers must recognize that certain pregnancy-related conditions may rise to the level of disabilities covered by the ADA, which require a reasonable accommodation. Pregnant employees may therefore be protected by both the ADA and Title VII, and employers and human resources personnel should keep this in mind when evaluating requests from pregnant employees.”

The Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

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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