SGB Secures $375,000 Settlement in Discrimination Case: Company Held Accountable for Discriminating and Retaliating Against Pregnant Employee

Employment Law
Nov 09, 2020

Lakewood, Wash – Schroeter Goldmark & Bender today announced it has secured a $375,000 settlement on behalf of a Lakewood woman who was discriminated and retaliated against after she disclosed her pregnancy to supervisors.

“It is against the law to discriminate or retaliate against pregnant women in the workplace regardless of their occupation,” said SGB Law attorney Elizabeth Hanley. “Employers are not allowed to deny equal employment opportunities to pregnant employees and employees who complain of pregnancy discrimination. Employers must follow the law and be held accountable when they break it.”

The former employee, Sarah Olsen, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had alleged that a government contractor, Oatridge Security Group, terminated Olsen’s employment because of her pregnancy, and retaliated against her when she tried to regain employment.

Ms. Olsen and the EEOC alleged that although Ms. Olsen performed her job well, when she revealed that she had a pregnancy-related medical condition, Oatridge failed to accommodate her and instead terminated her employment.

Oatridge’s manager texted at the time that Olsen sought to return to work that he would not allow Olsen to return to work because of her pregnancy, saying the position as a security officer was “not good” for a pregnant woman. He later testified in this case that in her request to continue working she “may not have been thinking clearly.” Ms. Olsen maintained that she could perform her work. Her medical provider had released her to work and had no concerns about her continuing to work as a security officer during the remainder of her pregnancy.

“I knew that I could work, and I wanted to continue to be able to work so I could financially support my family,” Olsen said. “It was important to me that my attorney and I address through this lawsuit not only for my own concerns, but also to prevent this company from discriminating against other women.”

“Pregnancy discrimination is often based on incorrect or false assumptions by others about what work women are capable of performing,” said attorney Hanley. “It has severe economic and health consequences for women. It is particularly destructive to lower-wage female workers who provide necessary services. Due to gaps in work history caused by bias against them and misconceptions about their ability to work, workers will have delays in their workplace advancement, and it may cause them to have lower lifetime wages. Employers are not allowed to supplant their own judgment and exercise control over women simply because they are pregnant. Pregnancy discrimination has been prohibited since 1978. It is critical that women like Ms. Olsen come forward when they experience discrimination so that federal and state antidiscrimination and anti-retaliation laws can be enforced.”

In addition to payment of a settlement, in a consent decree entered in federal court today (No. 2:19-cv-001517), the EEOC has secured an agreement that Oatridge will be required to retain a consultant with expertise in employment policies and practices to monitor their compliance with Title VII and the ADA, disseminate policies to employees detailing their rights to a workplace free to discrimination and retaliation, investigate complaints, and provide training to employees on their rights.