Company at Detroit Metro Airport settles pregnancy discrimination lawsuit

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Detroit Metro Airport.

An airline ramp and cargo handling company that operates at the Detroit Metro Airport agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), was launched on behalf of several employees who alleged that Simplicity Ground Services refused to accommodate their pregnancy-related lifting restrictions and forced them into unpaid leave, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

"Outdated notions about what pregnant women should and should not be doing persist," EEOC trial attorney Miles Uhlar said in a statement. "Employers cannot automatically force pregnant employees onto unpaid leave, nor automatically refuse to consider possible accommodations for them just because a job is considered physical, like lifting bags at the airport."

In addition to providing an award of monetary relief to the affected pregnant employees, Simplicity was prohibited from forcing pregnant employees into unpaid leave or discharging employees because of pregnancy in the future. The suit also prohibited the company from maintaining any policy that requires a pregnant employee to obtain medical clearance to continue working.

The company was also ordered to provide live anti-discrimination training to certain employees, develop a written pregnancy discrimination policy to be distributed to all employees, and submit annual reports to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.

"Even one day of lost wages carries a significant impact for many prospective mothers," Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office, said in a statement. "The EEOC understands this and will continue to stand up to policies like the one employed by Simplicity in this case."

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