A consulting firm hired by the federal government to overhaul ships at a Florida naval station has extended a job offer for a woman to be fired after finding out she was pregnant, federal officials say.
Now the company has to pay him $70,000.
DLS Engineering Associates, a Virginia-based engineering consulting firm, accepted payment after federal officials accused the company in a civil lawsuit of discriminating against the plaintiff because of her pregnancy.
The lawsuit was filed in December by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency charged with protecting and enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. A judge approved the settlement on Monday, April 25.
“A woman shouldn’t have to worry that disclosure of her pregnancy will cost her a job opportunity,” Roberto Chavez, acting EEOC Miami office director, said in a statement. “Targeted EEO training will help ensure that future pregnant candidates are given fair consideration.”
Company representatives and an attorney for DLS Engineering did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ April 26 request for comment.
According to the EEOC complaint filed in the Mid-Florida District, DLS Engineering was hiring an engineering logistics analyst in 2020 under a contract to help overhaul and modernize US Navy vessels at Naval Station Mayport. of Jacksonville, Florida.
One of the candidates was a woman who had served in the Navy, the EEOC said, and she was granted an interview with the vice president. He then offered her the job on Dec. 11, 2020, according to the lawsuit.
The woman reportedly accepted the job offer the same day. Officials said the vice president started sending him a company laptop and asked him to buy a helmet and boots that would be reimbursed.
Just over two weeks later, the woman informed the vice president that she was five months pregnant, the EEOC said.
The two men then had a telephone conversation during which the woman “gave no indication that she would not be able to fulfill the requirements of the position due to her pregnancy,” the lawsuit states. She reportedly didn’t mention maternity leave and assured the VP that she could still lift up to 25 pounds if needed.
He rescinded the job offer the next day, officials said.
“As the reason for the cancellation of the offer (the vice-president) explained that she could not hire a pregnant person, citing that the time required for pregnancy and maternity leave would not be feasible with the schedule project, that the work environment was too dangerous, and that the physical demands of the job could not be met,” the EEOC said in the complaint.
The woman filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC soon after, and the agency determined there was a reasonable ground to believe that DLS Engineering had discriminated against her.
An attempt to reconcile the allegations out of court failed, and the EEOC filed suit on December 9.
As part of the settlement agreement, DLS Engineering agreed to update its anti-discrimination policies, provide pregnancy discrimination training and provide updates to the EEOC.
The company has denied any wrongdoing and the consent decree is not an admission of liability.