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EEOC Sues Verona Resort & Spa For Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination

Company Failed to Accommodate and Fired Employee Because of Pregnancy-Related Condition, Federal Agency Charges

Verona Resort & Spa., a hotel resort and spa in Tamuning, violated federal law when it discharged a pregnant employee with a disability after failing to provide her with an accommodation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in 2014, a front desk agent provided medical notes that informed Verona Resort & Spa that she had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Due to her pregnancy-related disability, her doctor requested that she be allowed to sit during some of her duties as front-desk agent and wear open-toed shoes. The EEOC asserts that instead of providing the accommodations, Verona Resort & Spa discharged the employee within days of making the request, claiming that her pregnancy impacted her ability to perform her job.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for Guam (EEOC v. Polaris Guam LLC, d/b/a Verona Resort & Spa, Case No. 1:17-cv-00090) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and address pregnancy and disability discrimination in the future.

"We continue to see companies refuse to provide accommodations to women with pregnancy-related disabilities," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes the U.S. Territory of Guam. "This refusal denies them opportunities in the workplace and imposes a kind of penalty for motherhood."

Glory Gervacio Saure, director of the EEOC's Honolulu office, added, "Employers need to be aware of their legal obligation to engage in the interactive process with employees who have a pregnancy-related disability. Failing to engage in this process can lead to a violation of the law."

Addressing emerging and developing issues is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.