Description of Compliance Issue
The University School of Milwaukee fired arts and crafts coordinator Mallory Barker because she was pregnant. The termination is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin after there was an attempt to reach a settlement through pre-litigation through the conciliation process. The Milwaukee K-12 school was ordered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pay $37,500, as well as other relief in an attempt to settle the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The suit was entered on March 14, by the U.S. District Judge Charles N. Clevert. The lawsuit also prohibits future discrimination. The school is also ordered to train its employees, supervisors and managers about pregnancy discrimination, the employer’s obligations during a staff pregnancy and about the rights of the employees under Title VII.
Functions of the EEOC
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an agency of the federal government that enforces various laws that are in place to protect people in the workforce from being discriminated against. The EEOC is responsible for investigating the complaints about discrimination based on the person’s national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, race, color and genetics. The Commission retaliates if a company is suspected to be discriminating against its employees.
The EEOC’s Role in this Lawsuit
In this lawsuit, the EEOC was responsible for investigating the suit filed against the school, and for seeing if the school’s actions in firing Barker was in conflict with the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC also decided the sum that was appropriate to pay Barker in retribution for her being terminated from her position. Also, the EEOC has attempted to ensure that the school doesn’t repeat its transgression, by ordering the faculty to undergo training on the Civil Rights Act. Also, the faculty need to learn in their training the responsibilities of the school in situations where a person is pregnant.
Does the Lawsuit Promote Social Change?
Yes. I believe the lawsuit does promote social change. Certainly, this specific school will think twice about its role when a person becomes pregnant. Furthermore, it sends a message to other organizations about the consequences for firing someone if they become pregnant. This seems to be a fairly absurd thing to happen in today’s day and age, where discrimination does have consequences because of agencies such as the EEOC. So when someone is fired due to their pregnancy, there is certainly going to be consequences, as many organizations likely already know. However, it appears there are some organization that either don’t take the regulations as set out through the Civil Rights Act seriously, or they feel that making the payment of $37,500 is worth firing a staff member for. However, I also believe that the amount of the settlement is not significant and it may not deter organizations from discriminating against people who are pregnant and then firing them. The amount that was agreed to appears to be a one-year wage for an entry level position, which would essentially be the same as what would be given if Barker went on maternity leave. However, as the news story states, Barker was only a part-time worker.
Comparison of EEOC Press Release to the News. What Accounts for the Differences?
While the press release was much longer than the news story, the news story had some useful information that wasn’t included in the press release. For example, the school said that it didn’t feel that it was liable to make the payment, but believed that settling the lawsuit would fit in the school’s best interest. Staff at the school said the organization is an equal opportunity employer and doesn’t discriminate. That information wasn’t included in the press release and this indicates there is much more behind the story that meets the eye.
Strategies You Would Implement if You Were a Senior Manager of this Company to Ensure Future Compliance and Inclusion in the Multicultural Workplace.
This lawsuit didn’t deal with multiculturalism in the workplace. However, if we are to discuss acceptance of those who are pregnant, and obeying the Civil Rights Act when a person does become pregnant, then I would do as the EEOC has indicated and train all the staff on what to do when a person becomes pregnant. While the specifics of this case weren’t disclosed, and I suspect there were other reasons for Barker to be fired, I would nonetheless have to ensure that dismissing the staff member would be based on reasons that are acceptable and free from conflict with the Civil Rights Act. Training the staff to know what is and what is not acceptable when firing a person should be a goal of the organization.