PRUITTHEALTH SUED FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Raleigh Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Refused to Accommodate Pregnant Nursing Assistant and Forced Resignation
PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC, a Georgia corporation doing business as a nursing and rehabilitation center in Raleigh, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related work restriction of a certified nursing assistant and forced her to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, PruittHealth offered light duty or job modifications to accommodate the temporary restrictions of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who were injured at work. However, the company refused to grant similar accommodations or modifications to a CNA who experienced a pregnancy-related work restriction. The EEOC says that in October 2016, the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related 20-pound lifting restriction of CNA Dominique Codrington. Instead, the company’s assistant director of nursing and a human resources representative forced Codrington to resign or be fired.
The EEOC said that at all relevant times, the company had lifting devices and transfer belts available to help lift patients and did not prohibit CNAs from seeking the assistance of co-workers to lift patients manually. The EEOC contends that by refusing to accommodate Codrington’s pregnancy-related lifting restriction and forcing her to resign, the company violated the law.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PruittHealth – Raleigh, LLC, Civil Action No 5:18-CV-00165-D) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Codrington.
“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”