The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has accused locally based retailer Genesco of sex discrimination after it dismissed a female employee who had just had a child.
The EEOC filed suit on Friday on behalf of Leah Marshall, who started work at one of Genesco's Journeys stores in California in 2005. Marshall had been promoted to assistant manager before going on maternity leave in October 2007. In a statement, the EEOC said Marshall had been told she could return to work after her child was born but was told in November of that year that she was terminated, effective December 2007.
The EEOC complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges Genesco violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The agency says it tried to reach a settlement with Genesco before filing its case, which seeks lost wages, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages as well as an order forcing Genesco to train company managers and employees.
Genesco officials declined to comment on the case, citing company policy regarding litigation.
“All employers need to understand that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and pregnancy-related conditions,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “The EEOC has seen pregnancy- and childbirth-related claims increase along with the economic crisis, and so we will vigorously defend workers’ rights in this area.”