E.P. house-cleaning company settles pregnancy discrimination lawsuit

MARRY MAIDS, an East Providence cleaning company has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle claims it violated the state’s Civil Rights Act after the company fired a newly hired employee after learning she was pregnant. 

PROVIDENCE – Merry Maids has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle claims it violated the state’s Civil Rights Act after the company fired a newly hired employee after learning she was pregnant. 

According to the complaint filed on July 11 in R.I. Superior Court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Julia Schultz was 16 weeks pregnant when she interviewed for a position of house cleaner with the East Providence-based company’s manager, Deborah Bellamy-Goslin. Schultz, a Bristol resident, wore a baggy dress to the interview to conceal her pregnancy and was offered the position a week later. 

When Schultz arrived for an orientation program wearing a T-shirt and jeans, she was escorted to the break room while Bellamy-Goslin made some phone calls. Bellamy-Goslin returned to the break room and asked Schultz if she was pregnant. Schultz confirmed she was and Bellamy-Goslin said that she couldn’t offer her the job “because of the physical demands.” Bellamy-Goslin went on to say she ‘should be at home taking care of that special gift from God’ or words to that effect,” and that she could reapply for the job after the birth of the baby, according to the lawsuit.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this case and proud of the awareness we have brought to this issue,” Schultz said Thursday. “I hope this resolution brings women an awareness of their rights and reminds companies of their responsibility to honor their employees’ rights.”

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The lawsuit sought a court order finding the company’s conduct unlawful, reinstating Schultz to the position for which she had been hired, issuing an injunction to bar the company from engaging in similar acts of discrimination and awarding Schultz monetary damages for pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages, for the violation of her rights.

“In Rhode Island, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee or refuse to hire her because she is pregnant,” said ACLU attorney Mark Gagliardi. “When Merry Maids fired Julia after learning she was pregnant, they broke the law. By taking legal action, Julia was able to hold this employer accountable for a blatant violation of her legal rights.”

Merry Maids did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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