NOTE: An EEOC Administrative Judge has allowed women who were employed as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Officers and Agriculture Specialists and were placed on temporary light duty pursuant to CBP’s Temporary Light Duty Policy due to their pregnancy, at any time after July 18, 2016, to bring claims together – as a class – to seek monetary relief for harm suffered.
On April 21, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) certified a class of all women who were employed as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Officers and Agriculture Specialists and were placed on temporary light duty pursuant to CBP’s Temporary Light Duty Policy due to their pregnancy, at any time after July 18, 2016.
On May 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties (“CRCL”) issued a final order determining that the agency would not fully implement the EEOC’s ruling and that it was appealing the decision to the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (“OFO”).
On October 14, 2016, Roberta Gabaldon, a Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Specialist, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (“CBP or Agency”) discriminated against her and other similarly situated pregnant employees on the basis of their sex (female/pregnancy) in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”). A second complainant, Courtney Schilling, a CBP Officer, also joined this action on September 27, 2022 as a class agent.
The complaint challenges a CBP policy and practice pursuant to which more than 500 Officers and Agricultural Specialists have been in temporary light duty positions. The evidence collected to date strongly supports the conclusion that all or most of these women were placed in these temporary light duty positions simply because they were pregnant, without assessing whether they could continue to perform the essential functions of their positions of record and without, according to them, the process and protections afforded to employees with comparable short-term disabilities.
Complainants contend that the text and implementation of the temporary light duty policy violates the PDA because it treats pregnant CBP Officers and Agricultural Specialists differently than employees with other short-term impairments. While other employees are only placed in temporary light duty positions upon their request, Complainants assert, and the evidence supports, that supervisors regularly assigned pregnant employees from their positions of record into temporary light duty positions once they notified CBP of their pregnancy. Temporary light duty positions often limit the pregnant employees’ ability to earn overtime or other types of differential pay. In addition, Complainants contend that the TLD policy as applied to pregnant employees impairs their chances of promotion, renders them ineligible for various training opportunities, and affects their chances of obtaining preferred schedules. Placement on temporary light duty also results in the removal of the employee’s firearm and may require the employee to requalify to carry a weapon.
Case name: Gabaldon, et al. V. Mayorkas, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Agency Case No. HS-CBP-00258-2017, EEOC Case No. 450-2017-00086X