Last December we reported on case from Michigan where a federal judge refused to grant summary judgment to a weight watcher’s group in an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit based upon the company’s policy of requiring job applicants to be within its set goal weight. The Court found that an issue of fact existed as to whether the policy was related to the job applicant’s ability to perform the job – of group leader or receptionist.
The company admitted that it refused to interview the pregnant plaintiff, but contended that because the applicant was not at “her goal weight” she was, by definition, unable to perform the duties of the position.
The Court, however, disposed of that argument by noting that that the company’s policy was not to terminate an employee who became pregnant: “Consequently, when applied to a pregnant applicant whose over goal weight is wholly pregnancy related, a question of fact exists as to whether the applicant goal weight policy has a legitimate connection to the applicant’s ability to perform the job.”
The same case was just settled, according to the EEOC, with the company, The WW Group., Inc., agreeing to pay $45,000. The plaintiff was a lifetime member of weight watchers who had successfully met and maintained her weight goals before becoming pregnant, and had applied to be a group leader. The company told her that it did not hire pregnant women.
An EEOC attorney said that “Under the PDA, pregnant applicants have the right to fair and equal consideration for employment. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employers understand that a pregnant applicant’s ability or inability to perform the job is the only factor that may be considered.”