On June 16, 2009, the California Fair Employment & Housing Commission issued its decision in the case of DFEH vs. ACOSTA TACOS, Case No. E200708 T-0097-00se.
A Los Angeles employer who owned a chain of taquerias selling tacos and other Mexican food, hired a hispanic female, and employed her as a cashier. She worked there for approximately three years, from 2004 until 2007, when she was fired. Her offense? She dared to return from a pregnancy leave. That’s right, this employer advised its employee not to return to work until she ceased lactation. The employee explained that she could not postpone her return to work until she ceased breastfeeding-she needed this minimum wage job in order to support her family. The employer’s manager advised her that, with that “attitude,” she could look for employment opportunities elsewhere.
Instead, Ms. Chavez filed a complaint against Acosta Tacos with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing, which then issued an accusation against the employer. After a full hearing, the Fair Employment & Housing Commission issued its decision, finding the employer liable for discrimination based on sex and pregnancy, in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Within 60 days of its decision, the Commission ordered Acosta Tacos to pay Chavez $21,645.00 in backpay and accrued vacation with interest; another $20,000.00 in compensatory damages for emotional distress, with interest; an administrative fine of $5,000.00 to the State’s General Fund, with interest; develop and implement a policy prohibiting sex and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace; train supervisors to effectively implement that policy; post official Notices and return a signed statement of compliance to the Commission within 100 days after the effective date of the decision.
Well, what do you think? Did this employer’s bad behavior constitute a cost-effective decision that advanced the interests of the business? This is a perfect example of how NOT to manage your employees. Wouldn’t it have been much more cost-effective to simply reinstate Ms. Chavez? This decision clearly answers that question.