Dash Dream Plant to Pay $110,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Lawsuit
Don't Get Pregnant or You're Fired, Orchid Grower Told Employees, Federal Agency Charged
A Merced County orchid grower will pay $110,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency recently announced.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Dash Dream Plant, Inc. held staff meetings in which female employees were instructed not to get pregnant and that if a female employee became pregnant, she should consider herself fired. The lawsuit also alleged that female employees were not reinstated or rehired when they attempted to return to work after childbirth.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC filed its lawsuit on Sept. 20, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Dash Dream Plant, Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-01395-DAD-EPG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of the consent decree settling the suit, Dash Dream will pay $110,000 to at least two former employees who the EEOC alleges were subjected to the discriminatory treatment. In addition to monetary relief, Dash Dream also agreed to retain an external equal employment opportunity monitor who will assist the company in creating, reviewing and revising its policies and practices to ensure compliance with Title VII, including the PDA. The external EEO monitor will also assist in creating a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints and preparing semi-annual reports for the EEOC on Dash Dream's progress and its compliance under the decree. Dash Dream further agreed to distribute the revised policies to all employees and provide anti-discrimination training for both employees and management personnel. The EEOC will monitor Dash Dream's compliance with this five-year decree.
"We commend Dash Dream for resolving this complaint and for agreeing to put in place measures to help prevent future pregnancy discrimination in its workplace," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Merced County in its jurisdiction.
Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno Local Office, added, "We are encouraged by Dash Dream's acknowledgment of a woman's fundamental right to have children, and not lose her livelihood for that choice. The changes that will be put in place as part of this settlement will benefit not only women, but the workforce as a whole."
According to the company's website, www.dashdream.wordpress.com, the Dos Palos, Calif.-based company grows orchids for retail and wholesale buyers.
One of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.