CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte retirement home will pay $20,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had sued Lawyers Glen Retirement Living Center, LLC on behalf of a former employee who was discriminated against when she became pregnant.

In its lawsuit (EEOC v. Lawyers Glen Retirement Living Center, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:08-cv-00447) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the EEOC charged that Ashley Wilhelm, a certified nursing aide, had her hours reduced when she informed Lawyers Glen management that she was pregnant. Lawyers Glen, in accordance with its written “maternity policy,” continued to reduce Wilhelm’s hours during the course of her pregnancy, even though Wilhelm was fully capable of performing her job duties and was cleared for full-time work by her physician, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

In addition to paying $20,000 in damages to Wilhelm, Lawyers Glen must also take other actions set forth in the consent decree resolving this case, including providing anti-discrimination training to its staff and posting a notice about the settlement. Further, the company is enjoined from engaging in further pregnancy discrimination, and has agreed to implement a written anti-discrimination policy that is in compliance with federal law.

“Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a problem in the American workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Under federal law, employers must refrain from imposing their own paternalistic ideas about pregnancy on their employees. The EEOC will continue to actively pursue cases where an employee is subjected to discriminatory treatment because she is pregnant.”