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August 07, 2003
EEOC Files Pregnancy-Bias Suit against Restaurant

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) yesterday filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in federal district court against John Harvard's Brew House, a restaurant and brewery business operating in nine states with a local branch in Lake Grove, N.Y.

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The EEOC's suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charges that John Harvard's Brew House discriminated against Jennifer James once she informed its management that she was pregnant. James's career had advanced from a starting position of server, to supervisor, and to manager-in-training. However, as soon as she informed the company of her pregnancy, her career abruptly ended, according to the EEOC.

The suit seeks monetary relief, an order requiring the company to implement policies and procedures against discrimination, and a permanent injunction against discrimination.

"The EEOC takes very seriously allegations of pregnancy discrimination," says Katherine Bissell, the EEOC's regional attorney in New York. "No employee should ever be forced to choose between parenthood and a livelihood. The EEOC will continue to vigorously pursue such cases."

The company denied the charges in the lawsuit.

"John Harvard's is deeply committed to providing equal advancement opportunities to all our employees," Michael Hackney, the company's president, tells Newsday. "Today's EEOC action is surprising, unfounded and factually flawed. Jennifer James was never a manager in training. Her pregnancy played no role in any company action regarding her employment or promotion."

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