The owners of Tepanyaki Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Clearfield will pay $30,000 to settle a server's pregnancy lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to a Monday statement from the EEOC's regional office in Phoenix, the restaurant, at 1386 Legend Hills Drive, hired Alison Woodbury as a server. During her training, restaurant management discovered she was pregnant and fired her, the EEOC said.
A section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on factors such as race, religion, color and national origin. It also prohibits discrimination based on sex, which has been interpreted to include pregnancy and sexual harassment, and protects employees who complain about violations from retaliation, the statement said.
"Under federal law, employers must permit pregnant employees to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs," EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill said in the statement. "All workers, including pregnant employees, deserve fairness in the workplace. Women should not lose employment opportunities because of pregnancy."
In addition to the $30,000, the consent decree settling the suit, signed by Utah District Court Judge Ted Stewart, requires Tepanyaki to provide training and other relief aimed at educating its employees about sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination, and their rights under the Civil Rights Act.
The Deseret News called the restaurant for comment, but the manager was not present to comment. She did not return a message left by the Deseret News.
The original lawsuit was filed against Tepanyaki in April and is not the first time the company has been accused of illegal practices.
In September 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor recovered $200,000 in back wages for 230 employees at the Tepanyaki restaurants in Clearfield, Salt Lake City, Provo, West Jordan and Lehi. The Labor Department said that the Tepanyaki had not paid overtime to some non-exempt employees who worked more than 40 hours a week. Tipped employees were required to contribute their tips to a pool for other employees, and the result was that the employees did not earn minimum wage.