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Law firm to settle EEOC pregnancy bias lawsuit for $18,000


A Washington-based law firm has agreed to pay $18,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed last year against James E. Brown & Associates P.L.L.C. for allegedly rescinding a job offer to Zorayda J. Moreira-Smith for an associate attorney position after the law firm learned she was six months pregnant, the EEOC said in a statement Tuesday.

When Ms. Moreira-Smith initially interviewed for the position in November 2010, she did not inform Brown & Associates that she was four months pregnant. After she was offered the position in January 2011, Ms. Moreira-Smith inquired via email about the firm’s maternity leave policies and disclosed that she was six months pregnant. That same day, Brown & Associates allegedly rescinded the offer of employment, according to court documents.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, the EEOC alleged that Brown & Associates violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which holds that discrimination based on pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination.

“No woman should have to choose between having children and working,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s district office in Charlotte, N.C., in the statement. “Employers must remember that they cannot make employment decisions based on stereotypes about pregnant employees.”

Brown & Associates agreed to pay $18,000 in monetary relief to Ms. Moreira-Smith and a two-year consent decree requiring the firm to implement a policy that prohibits discrimination and provide training to all of its personnel.

Brown & Associates declined to comment for this story.