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Hospital, food producer charged with pregnancy discrimination by EEOC


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against a Chicago hospital and a Washington state organic fruit producer on charges of pregnancy discrimination.

Roseland Community Hospital was charged Wednesday with pregnancy discrimination for refusing to accommodate an employee with a high-risk pregnancy and firing her instead.

The EEOC said Roseland fired the unidentified worker rather than giving her the accommodation of making her unavailable to restrain disorderly and combative patients.

The EEOC said in its statement that a male security guard with an injury successfully sought an accommodation that he not be required to restrain patients and was assigned to a desk job instead.

“You can’t deny a female employee a temporary change in her duties due to her pregnancy while providing the same accommodation to a man,” John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago district office, said in the EEOC statement. “That’s pregnancy discrimination, and it can’t pass muster under federal law.”

Separately, the EEOC filed a pregnancy discrimination suit Monday against Wenatchee, Washington-based fruit grower Tiny’s Organics L.L.C., charging that it fired a farm worker for becoming pregnant.

The agency said Maria Guillen was fired nine days after she disclosed she was pregnant with twins. It said the employer cited fears for her safety and the company’s liability, even though Ms. Guillen’s doctor had cleared her to perform the job without medical restrictions.

“Employers be aware: You do not have the medical or legal authority to decide when and how your pregnant employee works. Leave this arena to your employees and their doctors,” said Michael Baldonado, director of the EEOC’s San Francisco district office, in the EEOC statement.

Spokesmen for neither the hospital nor Tiny’s Organics could immediately be reached for comment.

The EEOC announced earlier this week that a Wisconsin Merry Maids franchisee agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in which it was charged with firing a worker suffering from pregnancy-related issues.

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