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July 17, 2013

You Can’t Ask If I’m Pregnant, but You Can Ask Me to “EAT MOR CHIKIN”

Filed under: HR Consulting — Tags: 8:20 am

A Chick-fil-A franchise restaurant in Concord Commons, North Carolina, violated federal law when it refused to hire Heather Morrison, a female job applicant, because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed earlier this month.  At the time of the interview Morrison was six months pregnant.  During the interview, the owner asked Morrison a series of pregnancy-related questions such as 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.  Morrison thought the owner’s questions were inappropriate, but answered them because she wanted the job.  Three days after the interview, the owner called Morrison and informed her that she would not be hired and to call back after she had the baby and had childcare in place.  This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Commenting on this lawsuit, EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney, Tina Burnside, said, “Pregnant women must be treated in the same manner as other applicants, and employers should not make inquiries related to pregnancy or deny a woman a job based on pregnancy.”

Though this case was filed against the owner whose alleged conversation with this applicant was in violation of the law, employers should take heed and make sure their hiring managers are well versed as to what questions are appropriate during an interview.  Providing training and interview practice sessions to help managers become adept at asking open-ended, job-related questions can save your company time, money, and embarrassment.  No business wants this type of free publicity, especially when you may have to put the cows (“EAT MOR CHIKIN”) back out to pasture!

Do your hiring policies and procedures need audited?  Do your hiring managers need interview training?  Our experts at can help!



June 18, 2012

Pregnant and Over 40 – Still Discrimination Issues After All These Years

It’s sometimes difficult to spice up a blog on a rather mundane topic, such as the EEOC.  However, based on recent headline stories, the topic of EEOC is anything but mundane.  Below are some interesting statistics that pertain to two laws enforced by the EEOC.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

I thought all employers would be fully aware that it is illegal to discriminate against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, duly titled “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act”.  Apparently not.  The Washington Post recently reported that “nationwide in fiscal 2011, women filed 5,797 complaints with the EEOC alleging pregnancy discrimination at work or in hiring, a 23% increase from fiscal 2005.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there either.  After the baby is born, discrimination continues in the form of the “motherhood wage penalty” of up to 5% per child.

So what can be done?  The EEOC is stepping up their enforcement efforts, which could help raise awareness, along with increased guidance to employers as to how to comply.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The ADEA, in simple terms, prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an employee’s age.  “Employment decisions” cover a variety of areas inlucindg compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.  The ADEA forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

I have been reading a lot of news stories highlighting the difficulties “older” workers are having in securing a full-time job.  Even the AARP has a guide titled “Age Discrimination:  What Employers Need to Know”.  The guide seeks to inform employers that older workers are valuable resources to an organization.  In response to the statistics below, we are seeing more publications and articles referring to the benefits of “baby boomers” in the workplace.  Compare the statistics from 2001 to 2011 below:


  FY   2001 FY   2011
Receipts 17,405 23,465
Resolutions 14,672 26,080
Monetary   Benefits (Millions) $53.7 $95.2


By creating awareness of these issues regarding the PDA and ADEA, employers should step back and re-evaluate their processes.  Oftentimes, previous experiences have shaped our perceptions which have unintentionally influenced decisions.  We must work together to change that mindset and avoid further discrimination.  After all, we are in the 21st century; we are too smart to still be dealing with issues that are decades old.



July 15, 2009

Does Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protect Those Who Intend to Have a Baby?

Filed under: Legal Issues — Tags: 10:03 am

An Indiana federal court found that an employee’s remarks to her supervisor at a holiday party that she wanted to start a family would entitle her to protection under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  The intention to become pregnant places an employee in a protected class. However, the court found that the company had a legitimate reason for firing the plaintiff due to poor performance.  The employee had received below average individual and team performance reviews, poor sales reports, and had made personal charges on her company credit card, in violation of policy.  As a result of good documentation, the company was successfully able to defend the discrimination case as well as related retaliation claims. [Batchelor v. Merck & Co. N.D. Ind.]