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HCS Medical Staffing Ordered to Pay $148,000 for Pregnancy Discrimination by Owner

According to the EEOC.gov Pregnancy Discrimination is still alive and well. Federal Judge didn’t think pregnancy jokes were funny – company must pay $148,000.

A federal judge has ordered a Milwaukee medical staffing company to pay $148,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit charged that owner of HCS Medical Staffing, Inc. discriminated against Roxy Leger, the company’s bookkeeper, in violation of federal law, when he made offensive comments about her pregnancy and fired her because she needed to take maternity leave following the birth of her son .

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. HCS Medical Staffing, Inc., Civ. 11-CV-402) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in April 2011, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

After HCS failed to respond to a court order to retain an attorney, the court entered a default judgment against the company on Feb. 17, 2012.  The court ordered the employer to pay Roxy Leger  back pay plus pre-judgment interest in the sum of $48,340; compensatory damages in the sum of $50,000; and punitive damages amounting to $50,000; totaling $148,340 in damages against HCS Medical Staffing.

Judge J.P. Stadtmueller found that the “circumstances leading up to HCS’s discriminatory termination of Leger were inherently humiliating and caused Leger substantial emotional distress.  The circumstances surrounding Leger’s notification of termination were equally degrading.”

The judge found that HCS’s owner, Charles Sisson, referred to Leger’s pregnancy as a joke; insisted that maternity leave should last no more than a couple of days; suggested that Leger’s pre-natal appointments were a ruse for additional time off or for money; and gave Leger an offensive graphic diagram of a machine which would allegedly allow Leger to return from her maternity leave sooner.  With no prior warning or discipline, HCS terminated Leger’s employment and health insurance while she was still in the hospital recovering from a Caesarean section.  Leger learned of her termination days later by certified mail.

In addition to the monetary relief, the judge ordered that HCS Medical Staffing be permanently enjoined from engaging in any further pregnancy discrimination.

“The conduct at issue in this case was deplorable,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson.  “Pregnancy discrimination is sex discrimination. It is flatly prohibited by law. Working to stop it remains a high priority for the EEOC.”

Hendrickson noted the Commission held a meeting on Feb. 15, 2012, in Washington, in which the Commissioners heard testimony that unlawful discrimination based on pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities remains a widespread problem.

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Filed in: EEOC on the Move

2 Responses to “HCS Medical Staffing Ordered to Pay $148,000 for Pregnancy Discrimination by Owner”

  1. Jessica
    March 6, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    I have recently contacted the EEOC and am filing a claim against a company I worked for here in Green Bay, WI.
    I was pregnant and started to get made fun of, laughed at, and treated differently by the District Manager, whom I should have been able to go to about any complaints. So I contacted EEOC, and even mentioned that I felt like they wanted me gone, but didn’t have a reason to fire me, so they’d pick on me in hopes that I’d leave the company like non-pregnant employee’s have in the past. Then 3days later I went into work for 6pm as scheduled, and manager claimed I was late, so I was “terminated”. (Even though I had my print out of my schedule, saying 6pm!)
    Seven days later, I still haven’t gotten a reason as to why I was fired.And do put the cherry on the pie, even With my Doctors note, my supervisor never granted any special accommodations. I was having difficulties with my pregnancy and started having a miscarriage at work, but wasn’t allowed to leave to go to the doctors. But yet when another employee sprained her ankle, she didn’t have to come in. In fact, they called ME in when I was resting at home after losing my baby, and said I NEEDED to go in to cover for her.
    They worked me 39hrs a week while my difficulties were arising. But then once I recovered from my miscarriage, they hired someone else to take my full time hrs and put me at 13hrs. Then a week later, fired me.
    I would like some advise if possible?

  2. Margaret Spence
    March 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    I really cant give you any advise on this. Since you went to the EEOC you may want to go back to them. Sometimes things in the employment process is not fair – unfortunately. Good luck.

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