Carolina Creek pays settlement for EEOC Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination Suit
Carolina Creek Christian Camp (CCCC) is a non-profit organization and an independent interdenominational Christian ministry located in Huntsville Texas. They recently celebrated their 15th year in operation and serve guests at their three camp centers in Riverside, Texas. It’s probably a great place for fun in the sun, but it wasn’t fun for one of their employees who worked at the camp. The CCCC demoted a worker because of her pregnancy and related medical issues, and then fired her and sued her twice after she stood up for her rights. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of that employee in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:16-cv-03714).
The case centers on camp registrar Korrie Reed, who developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy. Within a week of learning about the medical condition, the camp allegedly demoted Reed to assistant registrar and cited the medical condition as the reason (Carolina Creek’s executive director claimed that the registrar job was too demanding). Reed never requested a job reassignment, nor did she indicate she was unable to perform her job duties. When Reed returned to work after maternity leave, she was demoted yet again to an assistant position in the finance department. She complained on several occasions to the executive director about what she believed to be discriminatory treatment. After another complaint from Reed of discrimination, she was fired. Reed filed a charge with the EEOC, and then the company sued her twice in return – once seeking a ruling that Reed had quit because she refused to work in her new position, and again to prevent her from receiving unemployment benefits.
The EEOC contends that the camp’s lawsuits against Reed were in retaliation for exercising her rights to complain about discriminatory treatment. The camp’s lawyer, however, said he believes Carolina Creek was targeted by the federal agency because it is faith-based. In the end, the CCCC will pay $70,000.00 to settle the pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit. In addition to the monetary settlement, the settlement decree includes an injunction prohibiting future discrimination or retaliation by Carolina Creek. The decree also requires Carolina Creek to devise and implement non-discrimination policies, complaint procedures and guidelines; post an anti-discrimination notice in the workplace; provide annual anti-discrimination training for its owners, managers and employees; and provide other compliance reports to the EEOC over a two-year period. The CCCC will not seek any further enforcement of or recovery from the two lawsuits it filed against Reed.
“As in this case, when a worker is pregnant or has a medical condition that the employer views as a disability, but the employee is qualified to continue performing the job, an employer’s unfounded fears and biases are not valid excuses to deny equal employment opportunities,” said EEOC’s Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin.