Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem in Texas. Last week, Dallas-based Greenhouse Outpatient Center and its parent company, American Addiction Centers, agreed to pay over $146,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought against the company.
The Dallas rehabilitation center had granted the pregnant employee, a behavioral health technician, a 30-day leave of absence for childbirth. After the employee delivered the baby by caesarean section, which requires abdominal surgery, the employee’s doctor indicated she needed eight weeks to recover before returning to work. Human Resources, however, told the employee her position could not be held open beyond the 30 days, and her employment was terminated, according to the lawsuit. In contrast, the defendants had granted greater leave to non-pregnant employees for reasons unrelated to pregnancy.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy in the workplace. In this case, the plaintiff sought back pay, plus compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring similar violations in the future.
It is important that employers understand that pregnant employees must be given the same benefits as non-pregnant employees. Not providing a brand-new mom adequate recovery time ordered by her doctor is an employment practice that may come under the scrutiny if other employees are allowed exceptions or greater opportunity to recover from their injuries or illnesses. The law demands equal treatment of pregnant employees who require leave related to their pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition.