On December 30, 2014, the EEOC filed suit against D & S Shipley Donuts d/b/a Shipley’s Do-Nuts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleging that the employer discriminated against a female employee when it forced her to take unpaid leave after the manager suspected that she was pregnant. According to the EEOC, Shipley’s owner confronted a female employee based on a rumor that she was pregnant. During the discussion the employee refused to answer whether or not she was pregnant. After her refusal, the EEOC alleges that the employer refused to schedule her for work until she was cleared by a doctor to work despite her pregnancy. The employee and her mother allegedly disputed the legality of the requirement and the employer terminated the employee for failing to report to work.
The EEOC seeks an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The allegations in the EEOC’s complaint are just that—allegations—and may or may not present the entire story. However, employers who are concerned that an employee may not be fit for duty due to a medical condition should be able to articulate with some specificity the concerns before refusing to schedule an employee and demanding a medical note.