Grocery chain settles pregnancy discrimination case

Frank S. Clowney III

Many employers view a pregnant female employee as someone who cannot fulfill the physical demands of their job. Unhappily for these employers, at least two federal statutes protect these women from discrimination based upon their physical condition. A local grocery chain Ralph’s Grocery Co. recently settled a claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

The claim

A woman employed as a courtesy clerk at the Ralph’s store in Point Loma asked the store to modify her work schedule after she learned that she was pregnant. The store manager denied the request, and the woman was forced to quit her job. The woman alleged that the store’s actions violated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The woman took her case to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the agency intervened the case.

The settlement

The EEOC announced that Ralph’s had agree to pay the woman $30,000 as a cash settlement for her lost wages. In a part of the settlement that may be more significant than the agreement to pay damages, Ralph’s agreed to review and revise its policies on discrimination and to provide training to employees and managers on federal anti-discrimination laws, with a special emphasis on discrimination against pregnant women.

The director of the EEOC’s San Diego office said that the changes in policies, employers can easily accommodate the needs of pregnant employees.

Individuals who feels that they may have been the victim of unlawful discrimination may wish to consult an experienced employment lawyer for an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the likelihood of prevailing either before the EEOC or in court.