Senior living operator Silverado violated federal law when it fired a pregnant employee rather than accommodate her need for “light duty” work due to medical restrictions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Shaquena Burton worked at Silverado Oak Village, a memory care community in Menomonee Falls, WI, according to the federal agency. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, names Silverado Menomonee Falls LLC (doing business as Silverado Oak Village) and Silverado Senior Living Inc.
“The Supreme Court made clear in Young v. United Parcel Service that if an employer provides light duty or other accommodations to a large proportion of nonpregnant workers while denying those opportunities to a large percentage of pregnant workers, the employer may be violating our nation’s civil rights law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination,” Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said in a statement. “In this case, Silverado deprived Ms. Burton of an accommodation that it consistently offered to its nonpregnant workers.”
Silverado’s alleged actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment, the EEOC said. The agency said it filed the lawsuit after trying to reach a settlement with the company.
The EEOC said it is seeking reinstatement of employment, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Burton as well as non-monetary measures to change Silverado’s practices in the future. Silverado, based in Irvine, CA, operates in eight states, offering senior living communities as well as hospice and home care services, according to its website.
Silverado had not responded to requests for comment made by McKnight’s Senior Living online and via the telephone as of the publication deadline.