Pregnant employees fi red, EEOC sues

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission slapped a North Carolina rehabilitation and nursing center with a sexual discrimination lawsuit in March.

It alleges the facility fired two pregnant employees, rather than accommodate work restrictions ordered by their physicians. The complaint alleges that Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it terminated two certified nursing assistants because of their pregnancy-related restrictions.

In one case, according to the EEOC, Scottish Pines placed CNA Mary Jacobs on unpaid leave in 2014 when she asked the center to accommodate a pulling, lifting and pushing restriction placed on her by a physician, then terminated her employment.

The center reportedly fired CNA Laketa Watts for similar reasons in 2015.

“We do not believe we discriminated against those employees,” Bob Gilliam, president of Scottish Pines and its management company, said in an email to McKnight's.

The EEOC alleges the nursing center had the ability to accommodate such restrictions because they had previously for non-pregnant employees who suffered work injuries. The suit seeks policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Jacobs and Watts.The EEOC said it tried to reach a settlement before bringing suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, said in a press release. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”