Rescinded Job Offer to Pregnant Woman in Washington, D.C.

According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a Washington, D.C. law firm violated federal law when it refused to hire a job applicant because she was pregnant.

According to the complaint, Moreira-Smith applied for an associate attorney position with the firm James E. Brown & Associates, PLLC. She received a job offer from the firm in January, 2011. Prior to accepting the offer, Moreira-Smith inquired, via email, concerning the companies maternity leave policy and informed the firm that she was six months pregnant. Thereafter, Moreira-Smith received an email which stated that Brown & Associates had rescinded its job offer to her.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. James E. Brown & Associates, PLLC, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-00262 ), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The EEOC complaint also noted that Brown & Associates continued to advertise for the same position previously offered to Moreira-Smith and, within three months, hired two associates who were not pregnant.

The law-suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Moreira-Smith, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief. Lynette A. Barnes, an attorney for the EEOC stated: “[w]orking women who choose to have children cannot be penalized or treated differently from other employees simply because they are pregnant.” She further stated, “[e]mployers must remember that refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant violates federal law, and the EEOC will enforce that law.”

The suit is currently pending.

Interesting Facts: On Feb. 15, 2012, the EEOC held a meeting to examine pregnancy discrimination issues and found that in the Fiscal Year 2011, they received 5,868 charges of pregnancy discrimination.