The Department of Justice today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) alleging that NDF discriminated against Ms. Tawnya Meyer, a former employee, when they fired her soon after she announced her pregnancy. According to the complaint, Ms. Meyer’s termination was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Title VII is a federal statute which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy.
The suit, filed in the Reno Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, alleges that Ms. Meyer, a former dispatcher with the NDF, was successfully performing her job and that there were no complaints about her work until she announced her pregnancy. The complaint further alleges that NDF did not document any work related problems with Ms. Meyer’s performance, nor did it follow its own policies regarding terminations. Finally, according to the complaint, Ms. Meyer’s pregnancy was discussed as a reason for her termination by NDF managers. The United States’ complaint seeks a court order that would require NDF to develop and implement policies that would prevent its employees from being subjected to discrimination based upon sex. The relief sought would also include monetary relief for Ms. Meyer as compensation for damages that she sustained as a result of the alleged discrimination.
Ms. Meyer initially filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) whose San Francisco office investigated the matter, determined that there was reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
“No woman should have to make a choice between having a job and having a family,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of such discrimination.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado said, “Due to our agency’s ongoing partnership with the DOJ, this lawsuit has been filed to hold NDF accountable for pregnancy discrimination. Having a new child should be a joyous event, not one that leads to unemployment.”
The EEOC held a public meeting in Washington concerning pregnancy and caregiver discrimination. Material from this commission meeting can be found at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-15-12/index.cfm .
The continued enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is available on its website at www.usdoj.gov/crt .