Charter School Operator Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

March 22, 2010 ( - Imagine Schools, Inc., a nationwide operator of charter schools, will pay $570,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to an EEOC announcement, the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri charged that Imagine Schools discriminated when it chose not to retain two pregnant employees after closing its charter middle school in Kansas City, Missouri, and opening a private middle and high school, Renaissance Academy, at the same location. The lawsuit claimed that the company did not rehire LuShonda Smith, an office manager, and Charity Brooks, an administrative assistant, to work at the new school because they were pregnant.      

In addition to requiring $570,000 in back pay, emotional distress damages, and attorneys’ fees, the two-year consent decree, which must be approved by the court, requires the nationwide charter school company to disseminate a policy on pregnancy discrimination, provide management training on such discrimination, report internal discrimination complaints to the EEOC, and prominently post a notice regarding employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency.      

According to the company Web site, Imagine Schools, based in Arlington, Virginia, operates more than 70 charter schools in 12 states.      

The announcement said pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC and state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies rose from 4,160 in Fiscal Year 2000 to 6,196 in FY 2009.