U.S. Justice Dept. files lawsuit accusing Nevada Division of Forestry of discrimination, alleges worker was fired shortly after announcing pregnancy

RENO, Nevada , May 20, 2012 () – The U.S. Justice Department is suing the Nevada Division of Forestry, claiming the agency discriminated against an employee by firing her shortly after she announced her pregnancy.

The federal agency announced Friday that the suit was filed in U.S District Court in Reno on behalf of former Forestry Division dispatcher Tawnya Meyer.

The suit alleges there were no complaints about Meyer’s work until she announced her pregnancy, and her termination violates a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy.

“No woman should have to make a choice between having a job and having a family,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of such discrimination.”

State forester Pete Anderson, said state policy prevents him from commenting on personnel matters.

The complaint seeks a court order requiring the state agency to develop and implement policies that would prevent its workers from being subjected to discrimination based on sex. It also seeks monetary relief for Meyer as compensation for alleged damages.

Meyer filed a complaint of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After an investigation, the agency’s San Francisco office determined there was reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred and referred the case to the Justice Department.

Michael Baldonado, director of the EEOC’s San Francisco district, said the suit is designed to hold the Nevada agency accountable.

“Having a new child should be a joyous event, not one that leads to unemployment,” he said.

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