Skilled nursing provider Life Care Centers of America and an affiliate will pay $170,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The suit took up claims from a certified nursing assistant who worked for Life Care Center of South Hill, located in Puyallup, WA. According to the commission, Life Care refused to accommodate the woman’s request not to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds during the end of her pregnancy.
Life Care said it provided light duty only to employees injured on the job, according to the EEOC, and placed the CNA on involuntary, unpaid leave in 2015. The EEOC also alleged Life Care supervisors told her to reapply for a CNA position once she was able to return to unrestricted duty, which the woman took to mean she had been fired.
A receptionist at South Hill said interim executive director Jerry Noviello was unfamiliar with the case. In a brief statement, Life Care Centers’ President Beecher Hunter said, “We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved.”
Denying light duty to a pregnant employee while providing it to nonpregnant employees is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC had filed suit against Life Care Centers in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
The consent decree announced Dec. 30 avoids a trial and requires Life Care Centers to pay the former employee lost wages and compensatory damages. The company also will provide training on workplace pregnancy protections to, among others, management, supervisors and human resources staff.