Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Thursday, June 14, 2001

CORNYN SETTLES PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION CASE

Hospitality House Inc. of Alice Agrees to New Leave Policy

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has finalized a settlement in a discrimination case between Hospitality House Inc., a nursing home in Alice, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights (TCHR), acting on behalf of former nursing home employee Anna Garza. She was terminated by the company in 1998 because she became pregnant and refused to accept the company's mandatory leave policy.

The settlement includes compensation to the Garza family for lost wages during her period of unemployment. The settlement also includes injunctive relief, specifying that the nursing home implement a new leave policy and agree not to discriminate in the future.

"I am pleased to see a positive resolution to this case and a resulting change in the treatment of women in the workplace," said Attorney General Cornyn.

The settlement was conditioned on the nursing home's acceptance of a new leave policy that complies with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The new agreed policy states:

"Hospitality House Inc. will provide leave as required by the FMLA. The taking of leave under the FMLA may not result in the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced."

The prior company policy prohibited women from working while pregnant, with the exception of "administered personnel and licensed supervisors." Garza worked as a certified nurse's assistant and was required to take maternity leave without pay because she worked directly with patients.

Home administrators believed at the time that female employees who provided direct care could not carry out their duties during any stage of pregnancy, and, as a consequence, were forced to take leave without pay or benefits. By its old policy, the company extended an offer of re-employment only after the birth of a child and a doctor's release form. Garza refused to comply with this policy and was discharged in April 1998.

Later that year Garza filed a complaint with the TCHR alleging sex discrimination. TCHR tried without success to reach a conciliation agreement with Hospitality House, leading eventually to the referral to the Attorney General and filing of the lawsuit in August 2000.

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