ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lawsuit claimed company discriminated against female security guards because they got pregnant; Akal says there was no discrimination and that it settled the lawsuit because of the growing expense of litigation
Española-based Akal Security will pay $1.62 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of 26 female security guards who claimed they were discriminated against because they got pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.
The women worked at U.S. Army bases including Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Stewart in Georgia and Fort Campbell in Kentucky, according to the EEOC.
A spokesman for Akal, the largest provider of contract security services to the federal government, said the company made the settlement payment only “because of the growing expense of this litigation.”
Daya Khalsa said, “There was no discrimination on the part of the company against these employees, and the company admitted none in the settlement.”
The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC in 2008 and alleged that Akal has, since at least 1995, forced women to take leaves of absence when they became pregnant, then fired them.
It also claimed Akal “subjected the women to less favorable terms and conditions of employment because of pregnancy, including preventing them from completing their annual physical agility and firearms tests, or forcing them to take such tests before their certifications had expired,” according to the EEOC.
The EEOC said Akal “retaliated against an employee who complained about discrimination by filing baseless criminal charges against her.”
Akal’s Khalsa said in a telephone interview that the EEOC’s contention that women were fired because they were pregnant was “completely false.” He said Akal was following government directions that said any employee working under the security contracts “had to do so safely both to themselves and to the public.”
He said no women were let go for being pregnant. “Some of them were not able to work based on doctors’ orders saying they were not fit to perform their duties,” Khalsa said.
He said “a couple of women” ended up being terminated but the reasons for the firings had nothing to do with pregnancies and were related to misconduct on the job.
In addition to the money settlement, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Akal to report to the EEOC if any employees are required to take a leave of absence or are fired while pregnant. The company also must report any physical agility tests it intends to implement for qualifications and whether pregnant employees are allowed to take the tests.
Akal will also have to provide annual compliance training to managers and supervisors on the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC.
“This is a very important settlement that will help protect an entire class of women from discrimination on account of pregnancy,” EEOC chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien said in a news release.
Barbara Seely, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis district office, said, “We are confident Akal now understands the price of allowing this type of illegal stereotyping to drive employment decisions.”
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A New Mexico company has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a federal lawsuit that accused the company of discriminating against pregnant employees it had hired to be security guards on Army bases.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that Akal Security Inc. will pay $1.62 million. The EEOC alleged that the company forced 26 security guards at bases across the country to take leaves of absence when they became pregnant, then discharged them, a violation of federal law.
Daya Khalsa, president of Akal Security, said the company did not discriminate against its employees and did not admit any discrimination in the settlement. He said “very few” of the people in the class-action lawsuit were fired and those who were were fired for misconduct.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.