Raleigh, N. C. – PruittHealth – Raleigh, a Georgia corporation doing business as a nursing and rehabilitation center in Raleigh, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related work restriction of a certified nursing assistant and forced her to resign, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a recently filed lawsuit.
In the EEOC’s latest challenge, PruittHealth is accused of offering light duty or job modifications to injured CNA’s (Certified Nursing Assistant) but not to a pregnant worker limited to lifting 20 pounds. In October of 2016, the EEOC states that PruittHealth refused to accommodate CNA Dominique Codrington. Instead, the assistant director of nursing and human resources for the company gave Codrington a decision to make. Resign or be fired.
According to the EEOC, at all relevant times, the company had lifting devices and transfer belts available to help lift patients and di not prohibit CNA’s from seeking the assistance of co-workers to lift patients manually. The EEOC goes on to state that by refusing to accommodate Codrington’s pregnancy-related lifting restriction, and forcing her to resign, the company did indeed violate the law.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PruittHealth – Raleigh, LLC, Civil Action No 5:18-CV-00165-D) after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Codrington.
“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”
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