The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Monday against a Charlotte Massage Envy franchise, accusing the business of firing an employee because she was pregnant.
The former employee, Morgan McCloskey, filed a complaint with the EEOC saying she was fired in April 2013. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, McCloskey was hired to work at the front desk of the University City-area Massage Envy at the beginning of that month.
On April 3 – after she was hired but before she started work – McCloskey discovered she was pregnant. She started work five days later, and told her supervisor about the pregnancy, the EEOC said.
On April 12, after a doctor’s test formally confirmed her pregnancy, McCloskey was called in to see two managers and was fired, according to the complaint. “The clinic manager told McCloskey that pregnant women should not be working,” the EEOC wrote.
The EEOC is seeking an injunction to stop the Massage Envy store from any future discrimination, as well as back pay and damages for McCloskey. The agency said it tried to reach a settlement with the Massage Envy franchise before filing the lawsuit.
“No working woman should have to fear losing her job simply because she decides to have a child,” said Lynette Barnes, attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte office, in a statement. “Employers must remember that terminating an employee because she is pregnant violates federal law.”
Christian Roedlich, owner of the Massage Envy franchise, referred questions to his lawyer, Nichole Murphey. In a statement, Murphey denied McCloskey’s claims.
“Massage Envy-University has never terminated anyone’s employment due to pregnancy. My client has routinely employed and currently continues to employ pregnant women,” Murphey said. “We believe these claims are entirely without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these charges.” Researcher Maria David contributed.