Baggage Handling Company Facing Suit For Allegedly Forcing Pregnant Employee Onto Unpaid Leave

April 02, 2018

According to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Simplicity Ground Services, P.C. violated Title VII when it forced an employee onto unpaid leave because of her pregnancy.

Employee was a tow team driver for Company, which was responsible for transferring baggage on and off commercial flights at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport. Employee’s job primarily consisted of driving a vehicle, and her job description contained no lifting requirement.

Upon learning that Employee was pregnant and had a 20-pound lifting restriction, Comapny purportedly informed her that she must go on unpaid leave and tried to make her sign an amended job description adding a 70-pound lifting requirement. Company also allegedly forced other employees to take unpaid leave because they were pregnant and refused to accommodate their pregnancy-related lifting restrictions with light-duty work. However, non-pregnant employees with similar restrictions were routinely granted light duty, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC is asking the court for back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Employee, as well as other pregnant employees, and injunctive relief designed to end the discriminatory practice in the future.

"The EEOC's investigation showed that pregnant employees were repeatedly treated as ineligible for light-duty assignments, a benefit that was otherwise a possible solution for temporary work restrictions," noted EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird. "This case presents an opportunity to remind employers that they cannot exclude pregnant workers from a benefit available to others with similar work limitations, unless there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for doing so."