Symphony of Joliet discriminated against pregnant employees in several ways, according to a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit.
The Chicago-area nursing home, rehabilitation center and long-term facility had a written policy that required pregnant women to disclose their pregnancies, according to the EEOC, whereas there was no similar written policy requiring other, nonpregnant employees to disclose medical information.
Joliet also required pregnant employees to get written documentation from a physician stating that they could work without restrictions, even if the employee was not asking for accommodations. The employment of employees who had worked for Symphony for less than a year but had pregnancy-related restrictions was terminated.
“This kind of disparate treatment of pregnant employees backed up by written employment policies is unlawful discrimination, plain and simple,” Julianne Bowman, the district director of the EEOC’s office in Chicago, said in the lawsuit.
The EEOC alleges that Symphony of Joliet violated federal civil rights laws. Specifially, pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and requiring employees to submit to medical examinations without a business necessity violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Pregnant women are frequently subjected to harmful, paternalistic stereotypes,” Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said in the same press release. “Pregnancy is no reason for an employer to assume that an employee cannot continue to work, nor is it a blank check for employers to seek invasive medical information or to subject pregnant employees to less favorable employment conditions than their non-pregnant co-workers.”