An Annapolis medical practice will pay $22,500 to a former employee who claimed she was discriminated against because she was pregnant.
Officials for Annapolis Internal Medicine said Tuesday they agreed to the payment to settle a lawsuit filed last year by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission on behalf of the employee.
Jonathan P. Kagan, an attorney for Annapolis Internal Medicine, said the doctors decided to settle rather than bear the expense of defending it at trial. The doctors deny any wrongdoing, he said.
"They had to make a business decision. They are a small business defending a lawsuit in which they emphatically denied any type of wrongdoing," Kagan said.
In a statement, Dr. Steven Hamilton, a partner in the practice, said the EEOC was overzealous in the case. "When the watchdog attacks a member of the household, that's a problem. For the first time in my life, I truly feel violated by the federal government."
Spencer H. Lewis Jr., district director for the EEOC, said in a statement that the lawsuit shows, "the EEOC will take vigorous action to remedy pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, including litigation when warranted."
The former employee was hired as a receptionist in 2009 and disclosed her pregnancy when she was given a flu shot, according to the lawsuit. The receptionist said she was treated differently and criticized more than other employees, the lawsuit said.
The receptionist said she was given written counseling about "the value of being honest" and was criticized for not telling superiors about her pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. She claims she was put on a two-week probation for a mistake, and alleged a supervisor began to "verbally abuse and physically intimidate her" during a meeting. After complaining, the receptionist said she was disciplined for being insubordinate, and was terminated shortly thereafter, according to the lawsuit.
Under the settlement, Annapolis Internal Medicine must also implement a pregnancy anti-discrimination policy and train employees.
Annapolis Internal Medicine was founded in 1974 and has 10 doctors on staff.