For many becoming pregnant is an exciting and challenging time. But one challenge you should not have to worry about is pregnancy discrimination. If your employer discriminates against you because of your pregnancy you can take legal action.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a female applicant or employee unfavorably because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. Pregnant women are Protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), which is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the American Disabilities Act (“ADA”) may also provide protections for pregnant women. Specifically, the ADA will protect women who have an impairment as a result of the pregnancy such as gestational diabetes.
What does the Pregnancy Discrimination Act do?
The PDA prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy. Specifically, it prevents discriminatory hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, fringe benefits (including leave and health insurance), and any other term or condition of employment.
What are other potential protections?
An employer must treat a woman temporarily disabled by a pregnancy related medical condition like any other temporarily disabled employee. This means the employer must provide light duty, different assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave if those benefits are offered to other temporarily disabled employees. If the employer fails to do so it is pregnancy discrimination.
The employer cannot create special procedures for pregnancy related conditions. But employers can require pregnant women to follow policies concerning leave or sick benefits.
Further, if the pregnancy causes an impairment that is a qualifying ADA disability, the employer may need to provide a reasonable accommodation. However, the reasonable accommodation must be balanced against any undue hardship for the employer. An undue hardship occurs when there is a significant difficulty or expense.
Additionally, the FMLA may allow the woman to use 12 weeks of leave that may be used for childcare. To be eligible an employee must work for the employer for 12 months prior to taking leave if the employer is covered by the policy. Covered employers include private sector employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks, public employers, and schools.
However, it is pregnancy discrimination to require a woman to take leave because she is pregnant. The employer cannot force the employee to take leave unless she is unable to perform her job.
Are there harassment specific protections?
Yes, an employer cannot subject an employee to pregnancy discrimination via harassment. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer harasses a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Contact An Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today
There are laws in place at both a state and federal level to protect the rights of pregnant employees. If you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, we can help. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, we take a proactive approach to each and every legal issue our clients face. Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation.