The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against an operation owned by the tanker/bulk-hauler Kenan Advantage Group, claiming it violated federal law by discriminating against a female employee because she was pregnant and by retaliating against her because she made complaints about pregnancy discrimination.

According to the EEOC's complaint, Jessica Williams worked at Kenan Transport's Spartanburg, S.C., trucking terminal as a billing clerk. On Feb. 23, 2012, Williams had premature labor, which her doctor was able to stop. The EEOC alleges that when Williams notified the terminal manager, her doctor had excused her from work for a few days, the terminal manager told Williams she would not be allowed to return to work until after the birth of her baby. Williams was only seven and a half months pregnant at the time. 

The EEOC further alleges that Williams complained to the company that she was being forced to go out on leave because of her pregnancy and of her intent to file a pregnancy discrimination charge.  Ultimately, Williams gave birth to her child on March 15, 2012. According to the  EEOC's complaint, Kenan terminated Williams on May 14 because of her pregnancy and/or in retaliation for her complaints about discrimination.

EEOC says federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees as well as prohibiting employers from retaliating against workers who complain about discrimination. 

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory damages and punitive damages for Williams, as well as injunctive relief.

Kenan Advantage Group has more than 6,500 trucks in its fleet and is one of the largest tanker/bulk hauling operations in the U.S., while Kenan Transport had more than 900 trucks, according to 2011 federal records, the most recent available.