A Concord, North Carolina Chick-fil-A franchise restaurant has agreed to pay $10,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination case in which the franchise operator allegedly asked a job applicant several questions about her pregnancy, then refused to hire her until after her baby was born, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday.
The EEOC said franchise operator John Charping asked job applicant Heather Morrison, who was six months pregnant when he interviewed her in November 2012, questions including how many months she had been pregnant, when she was expected to deliver, her childcare plans after giving birth and how much maternity leave she planned to take.
Three days later, he called Ms. Morrison to say she would not be hired, and to call back after she had the baby and had childcare arrangements in place, the EEOC said.
The EEOC charged Mr. Charping with violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Under terms of the settlement, in addition to paying Ms. Morrison $10,000, the consent decree requires the restaurant to develop and implement a policy that prohibits pregnancy discrimination among other provisions, the EEOC said.
“Working women who choose to have children shouldn't be treated differently from other employees or applicants simply because they are pregnant,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's district office in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a statement. “The EEOC will continue to enforce federal law against pregnancy discrimination.”
“Unfortunately, all employers at some point find an unsuccessful job applicant who resorts to litigation,” Mr. Charping's attorney, Alexander L. Maultsby, a partner with Smith Moore Leatherwood L.L.P. in Greensboro, North Carolina, said in a statement. “The amount agreed upon by the employer here was far less than what the individual sought and far less than what it would have cost to litigate the matter. Sometimes when you are a small business owner with limited resources you have to make practical financial decisions to avoid litigation expense even when, as here, you are not liable. It is a fact of life as an employer.”
In April, the EEOC reached a $90,000 pregnancy discrimination settlement with a midsize office furnishings and architectural store in New York City that had been charged with reneging on an employment offer to a job applicant who was pregnant.