HCS Boss Ridiculed Maternity Leave as ‘Vacation,’ Fired Employee Seven Days After C-Section, Federal Agency Charges

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – HCS Medical Staffing, Inc. violated federal law by discriminating against a pregnant employee and then firing her while she was on maternity leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, (EEOC v. HCS Medical Staffing, Inc., Case No. 2:11-cv-00402), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Charles Sisson, owner of the Milwaukee medical staffing company, engaged in escalating negative comments about the upcoming maternity leave of HCS bookkeeper Roxy Leger. Sisson’s statements allegedly included insisting that Leger’s pregnancy was a joke, describing her maternity leave as “vacation,” and insisting that maternity leave should be no longer than two days. The EEOC contends that Sisson then terminated Leger, who had no prior negative comments on her work performance, seven days after she gave birth as she recovered from the delivery of her baby by Caesarean section.

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutory conciliation process. The agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Leger, an order barring future discrimination and other relief.

“Some employers appear to have gotten the news later than others: taking adverse actions against employees on account of pregnancy has been a violation of federal law for years,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney for the Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin. “It won’t wash -- you just can’t do it. The EEOC is in this case to vindicate that principle, to change the way business is conducted at HCS and obtain relief for Roxy Leger.”

Attorneys in the EEOC’s Milwaukee Area Office, including trial attorney Camille Monahan, will lead the agency’s litigation effort. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.