Company Fired Security Officer Due to Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
SEATTLE — Tacoma-based security company Oatridge Security Group, Inc. will pay $375,000 and make substantial changes to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a supervisor at the Seattle Tunnel Project was terminated shortly after disclosing her pregnancy and the need for leave to her manager. The manager claimed that security work was not proper for a pregnant woman. The employee attempted multiple times to regain her job, but the company refused, the EEOC’s suit said. Thereafter, the employee filed an EEOC charge alleging discrimination, and the manager retaliated by telling her that she would never work for Oatridge again, according to the lawsuit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex or pregnancy-based discrimination. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing charges with the EEOC. After an investigation by the EEOC and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Oatridge Security Group, Inc., Civil No. 2:19-cv-01517). The employee intervened in the EEOC’s lawsuit after it was filed, bringing additional claims under federal and state law.
The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $375,000 to the security officer, including lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Oatridge to implement policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure discrimination-free workplaces in the future and to enhance accountability and oversight of managers and employees. The security company will provide anti-discrimination trainings to all employees, track and report to the EEOC all complaints of discrimination or retaliation, and post a notice about the consent decree and employee rights under federal law.
“This worker was simply trying to do her job while supporting herself and her growing family,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy. “Being excluded from employment because of pregnancy is against the law.”
Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, added, “Combating pregnancy discrimination is a top priority for the EEOC. Employers must take meaningful steps to ensure that such discrimination and negative stereotypes about female employees are not fostered.”
In the fiscal year 2019, the EEOC resolved nearly 3,000 charges alleging pregnancy discrimination.
According to its website, https://www.oatridgesecurity.com, Oatridge provides physical and electronic security as well as life-safety and electrical services.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.