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EEOC sues Spokane company over layoff

A Spokane advertising firm should pay back wages and punitive damages to an employee allegedly terminated because she was pregnant, a recent federal lawsuit states.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the action in Spokane’s U.S. District Court on behalf of Andreah Weitz. The 32-year-old worked for Spokane ad agency BHW1 in 2006 and was let go in November of that year.

In an EEOC news release Weitz said: “I was shocked to hear my supervisor tell me that they chose me for layoff because I would be going on maternity leave and because I’m not the sole breadwinner in my family.

“We relied on my salary, and it was devastating to lose my job just before the birth of our child,” Weitz said in the statement.

A graphics arts graduate of Spokane Falls Community College, Weitz worked for BHW1 as a production artist. She now works for a graphics arts firm in Liberty Lake.

The EEOC, with offices in Seattle, enforces federal employment discrimination laws.

Its last lawsuit in the Eastern Washington division of District Court was filed in March against a Spokane manufacturing firm, Cables Inc. That action also alleges employer discrimination over the firing of a pregnant employee.

Managers of Cables Inc. have denied the allegations; the case is moving toward trial.

The suit on behalf of Weitz occurred after she filed an initial claim against her former employer on the basis of discrimination. She asked for $50,000 in that claim, which BHW1 denied.

The EEOC lawsuit seeks monetary damages from BHW1 including compensatory and punitive damages. The amount would be determined at trial.

Typically the commission also seeks assorted corporate changes in workplace policies, such as monitoring and training company managers over employment practices.