EEOC Sues Pet Waste Removal Company For Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination

September 23, 2019

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit alleging that Virginia-based DoodyCalls, a leading pet waste removal company, violated federal law when it fired a pregnant worker because of her pregnancy and disability. According to the suit, shortly after she was hired as a pet waste technician, whose duties included visiting residential and commercial sites to collect and dispose of pet waste, she advised the operations manager that she was pregnant and had a lifting and walking restriction. The operations manager expressed concern about her performing the job because she had a high-risk pregnancy. The female technician explained that she would avoid lifting over 20 pounds and that she would take a five- to ten-minute break after six hours of walking. She had previously successfully performed her job removing waste in ten-pound increments, and there was nothing in the job description which required walking for a straight six hours without a break. Nevertheless, the operations manager fired her and told her that he was concerned about the company's liability and that she could seek re-hire after her pregnancy. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). "The decision of whether a pregnant woman can work should be reserved for the individual woman to make for herself, not the employer," said Jamie R. Williamson, director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Federal law is clear- an employer may not fire a pregnant woman based on the employer's supposed concerns about the safety of the mother or unborn child. A pregnant woman who can do the job, as was the case here, has the right to continue to earn a living."