EEOC: Local bar fired worker over pregnancy

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the owner of a Broad Ripple bar, charging that it terminated a female employee because of her pregnancy.

The complaint against WBS Broad Ripple Inc., which does business as Wild Beaver Saloon, was filed by the EEOC on behalf of Heather Gibson, a former bartender and server. Her alleged firing due to a pregnancy violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the lawsuit asserts.

The suit also charges that the bar owner failed to post certain provisions of the act at the workplace, another violation of federal law.

EEOC filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court in Indianapolis on March 16. It is asking the court to grant a permanent injunction prohibiting the bar owner from terminating an employee because of her gender and pregnancy, or any other discrimination based on gender.

The complaint also requests that the bar owner institute policies and programs that provide equal employment opportunities for women.

In addition, it wants the bar owner to compensate Gibson for back pay and any future financial losses resulting from the termination, as well as punitive damages for its “malicious and reckless conduct,” to be determined at trial.

“Employees who become pregnant should not lose their jobs because of their condition,” said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney of the EEOC's Indianapolis District Office, in a prepared statement issued Monday. "The Commission will vigorously prosecute employers who engage in pregnancy discrimination or other forms of sex discrimination.”

The Wild Beaver Saloon in Broad Ripple is located at 723 Broad Ripple Ave. Another Wild Beaver is located in downtown Indianapolis at 20 E. Maryland St. The Indianapolis-based chain also has locations in Nashville, Tenn., and Lansing, Mich.

A phone call placed to the bar was not answered and an e-mail sent to company co-owner Richard Payne was not returned Tuesday afternoon.


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