Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, August 17, 2000

CORNYN SUES TO STOP DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PREGNANT WOMEN

Alleges employment discrimination

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn filed a lawsuit against Hospitality House of Alice, TX for employment discrimination against pregnant women. The Texas Commission on Human Rights (TCHR) investigated a complaint by Anna Garza, a former employee of Hospitality House, and determined that Hospitality House engaged in unlawful employment discrimination.

"Just as with men, women in the workplace deserve to be treated fairly. Any employer who violates the civil rights of their employees will have to face their time in court," said Attorney General John Cornyn.

On September 11, 1998, Anna Garza filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and TCHR for sex discrimination resulting from her pregnancy. Garza was employed as a Certified Nurse's Assistant (CNA) by Hospitality House, a nursing home, from September 17, 1997, to April 24, 1998. She was terminated because she refused to accept Hospitality House's maternity leave policy, which states:

    No employee, with the exception of administered personnel and licensed supervisors, is allowed to work while pregnant. The pregnant employee will be granted a maternity leave. Employment will be made available upon delivery of the child and a release form from the doctor is obtained.

According to the TCHR investigation, Hospitality House believes that all pregnant female employees who provide direct care to patients are unable to do their job during any stage of pregnancy. They are not only required to take maternity leave, but they are forced to accept the leave without pay or benefits-even if they have no medical restrictions relevant to the performance of their job. Hospitality House admitted that Garza was discharged because she refused to comply with this requirement.

Initially, TCHR attempted to resolve this matter through its administrative procedures, outside of the court system. However, Hospitality House refused these efforts. TCHR then referred this matter to the Attorney General's office.

The lawsuit was filed in the 79th District Court of Jim Wells County for violations of the Texas Labor Code by Assistant Attorney General Susanna Holt of the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office. The lawsuit seeks reinstatement of Garza in her CNA position at Hospitality House, injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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