According to a press release from the EEOC, a North Carolina retail furniture franchise is being sued for pregnancy discrimination.
A complaint was filed regarding the company and employee Chantoni McBryde on June 1, 2015. The company assigned McBryde to work as a shop apprentice in the company’s temporary training facility located in Dunn, North Carolina. The job requirements included handling various chemicals that were needed to repair furniture.
On June 3rd of 2015, McBryde informed her company that she was pregnant. Later that day, she was pulled into a meeting and asked to confirm that she was, in fact, pregnant. During the meeting, according to the EEOC press release, McBryde was shown a can of lacquer thinner that contained a warning that use of the product could pose a risk to her or her unborn child. She was then informed that because of this implied risk, she would no longer be able to work at the facility.
Whether it acted out of paternal concern or out of fear of potential liabilities, their good intentions were not welcome and in fact were in violation of the law. EEOC Charlotte District Office regional attorney Lynette Barnes said in a statement that : “Pregnant women have the right to make their own decisions about working while pregnant, including the risks they are willing to assume. Companies must not impose paternalistic notions on pregnant women as doing so can result in unlawful discrimination.”
Companies, though they mean well, are not allowed to determine if a situation is safe for her and her unborn child. That decision rests solely on her. Outdated notions can unwittingly cause discrimination in the workplace and intentions aside, they have no place in today’s workplace.
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