Elkhart-based company charged with pregnancy discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s Deputy Director Akia Haynes announced today that Forest River, Inc., located in Elkhart, Indiana, was charged with violating the Indiana Civil Rights Law for their treatment of a pregnant employee earlier this year.

The charge stems from a January 22, 2013 Complaint filed with the Commission alleging that Complainant was treated less favorably and ultimately terminated after applying for and receiving FMLA related to her pregnancy. Upon receipt of FMLA on December 28, 2012, Respondent moved Complainant to another department and reduced her pay from $14.00 an hour to $8.00 an hour.

While Respondent initially moved Complainant from a location requiring a ladder to a position on the floor as a precaution for her pregnancy and because Complainant had nearly injured herself in the past performing such tasks, Respondent asked her to return working on a ladder a few days later. Once Complainant denied Respondent’s request, she was told to perform the tasks or go home. Prior to leaving, Respondent’s General Manager and Group Leader informed her that if she refused to perform the tasks she was quitting.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her in the same way it treats other temporarily impaired employees. Despite evidence that Respondent treated other employees with short term impairments more favorably under similar circumstances, Respondent chose to terminate Complainant.

In order to prevail in this case, the Complainant must show that: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she suffered an adverse employment action; (3) she was meeting Respondent’s legitimate business expectations at the time of her termination; and (4) there exists a nexus between the adverse employment action and her pregnancy.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a civil rights Complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.