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Pregnancy Discrimination at a Massage Parlor

Can a pregnant woman work at a massage parlor? There could be some issues which would require some accommodation on the employer's part. But if she is working at the front desk, there should not even be a need for that. But firing her? That's a no-no.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday sued a North Carolina-based Massage Envy franchise, alleging in federal court that the spa illegally fired a female employee after learning she was pregnant. The agency alleged that CCR, which operates a Massage Envy franchise, unlawfully fired Morgan P. McCloskey from a spa in Charlotte, North Carolina, after she told her supervisors she was pregnant.

According to the complaint, at the time she was hired, McCloskey didn't know she was pregnant, but on April 3, 2013, she took an in-home pregnancy test that turned up positive. McCloskey informed her employer that she was pregnant on her first day of work. She requested that she be work afternoons and evening because she was experiencing morning sickness, and her supervisor granted her request. Four days later, after a visit to the doctor, she came to work and was told to see her managers. They told her that afternoon and evening hours were not available, and that pregnant women should not be working. They fired her.

Pregnancy discrimination doesn't get much more obvious than that. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, a woman who is pregnant or has given birth is entitled to reasonable accommodation due to the pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition so that she can perform "the essential requisites of the job." It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to provide such reasonable accommodation when the employee's pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition is known, or should have been known, by the employer, unless the employer can prove that the accommodation would cause an "undue hardship in the conduct of the [employer's] business." Additionally, if the employer believes that the employee could not with reasonable accommodation "satisfy the essential requisites of the job," the employer must raise and prove this as an affirmative defense to a claim of discrimination.

If you are employed in New York City, and have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, contact the lawyers at Schwartz & Perry LLP for help.
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