Trinity Hospital to Pay $95,000 To Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Minot Hospital Failed to Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Restrictions Related to Nurse's Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged

MINNEAPOLIS - Trinity Health, doing business as Trinity Hospital in Minot, ND, will pay $95,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Trinity refused to provide light-duty work to a pregnant nurse who had lifting restrictions because of a pregnancy-related health condition. Instead, it fired her, although it provided light-duty positions to nurses injured on the job.

The EEOC contended that Trinity had violated both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing the employee with accommodations for her lifting restrictions. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Trinity Health, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00200-CSM) in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

To resolve the suit, Trinity will pay the employee $95,000. In addition, it will revise its policies to assure that they comply with Title VII and the ADA in requiring accommodations for pregnancy-related limitations. It will also provide training to its human resources employees and make sure that its policies are accessible to its employees. In addition, Trinity Health will report to the EEOC for the three-year term of the consent decree settling the suit. 

"Employers must understand that the law obliges them to accommodate restrictions of pregnant employees -- just as they would accommodate other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation. "It is especially important that they understand that if they are accommodating persons with restrictions arising from a work-related injury, they may have to provide the same accommodations to employees with restrictions arising out of pregnancy."

Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, added, "Both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act may require that an employer provide accommodations such as light duty to nurses with pregnancy-related limitations. It is essential that employers know the rights of pregnant employees under these statutes."

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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