FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Mary Jo O'Neill, Regional Attorney
April 2, 2009 Phone: (602) 640-5044
David Lopez, Supervisory Attorney
Phone: (602) 640-5016
Meenoo Chahbazi, Trial Attorney
Phone: (602) 640-5061
TTY: (602) 640-5072
CLEARFIELD JAPANESE RESTAURANT SUED BY EEOC FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Tepanyaki Steakhouse Fired Pregnant Server Immediately
Upon Discovering Her Condition, Federal Agency Charges
SALT LAKE CITY - A Clearfield, Utah Japanese restaurant violated federal law by firing a server because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit against Tepanyaki of Clearfield L.L.C. (Case No. 1:09-cv-43 TS in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah), Alison Woodbury was hired by Tepanyaki Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar in approximately February, 2007. During her initial training, Defendant Tepanaki discovered that she was pregnant and immediately terminated her employment.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy or sexual harassment) or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The agency's suit seeks monetary relief from Tepanyaki, including back pay with prejudgment interest, and compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination by Tepanyaki and any other relief necessary to prevent it from engaging in any further discriminatory practices.
"Terminating or refusing to hire someone due to her pregnancy is sex discrimination and is plainly and simply illegal," said Chester V. Bailey, district director of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which also serves the state of Utah.
Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney at the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, said, "Tepanyaki took away Ms. Woodbury's means of helping to support her family when it found out she was expecting a child. This is another example of the alarming increase in the number of pregnancy charges that this agency has seen in recent years."
The EEOC estimates that pregnancy discrimination charges have increased by 33 percent nationwide in the last three years.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
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EEOC - Denver Field Office