Protecting Your Rights: Understanding the Laws Against Pregnancy Discrimination
As an employee, you have the right to be free from discrimination at work, including pregnancy discrimination. Unfortunately, many women face pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. This type of discrimination can take many forms, such as being denied a promotion, being demoted, or being fired. But what exactly is pregnancy discrimination, and what laws protect you from it?
What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by federal and state laws. Discrimination based on pregnancy essentially involves treating an employee or candidate differently because of the worker’s potential, current or past pregnancy, or based on recent childbirth. This type of discrimination can also relate to unfair treatment based on breastfeeding or any medical conditions that are related to the worker’s pregnancy or childbirth.
Pregnancy discrimination can include discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, pay, and job assignments. It can also include retaliation if someone complains.
Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as allowing them to take breaks or modify their work schedules. Failure to provide those accommodations is also unlawful.
The federal law that protects against pregnancy discrimination is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it clear that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is a form of sex discrimination. This means that employers cannot discriminate against women because they are pregnant or may become pregnant.
In addition to the PDA, some states have their own laws that protect against pregnancy discrimination. These laws may provide more protection than the federal law, so it’s important to check your state’s laws.
For example, Massachusetts has the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This protects not only thepregnancy itself, but also the conditions related to pregnancy, such as lactation.
Wrongful Termination and Pregnancy Discrimination
One of the most common forms of pregnancy discrimination is wrongful termination. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for a discriminatory reason, such as pregnancy. This is illegal and can result in legal action against the employer.
Not all unfavorable employment decisions or requirements constitute unlawful pregnancy discrimination, however. For example, if an employer’s policies require employees to provide medical documentation when taking sick leave, it is not discrimination to require the same type of documentation when taking time off due to pregnancy. Similarly, if a pregnant candidate is not hired because there is another candidate who is more qualified for the job based on previous work experience, the employment decision is not discriminatory.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated due to pregnancy discrimination, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. To do this, you will need to show that you were terminated because of your pregnancy and not for a legitimate business reason. It’s important to gather any evidence that supports your case, such as emails, witness statements, or performance evaluations.
However, it’s important to note that wrongful termination cases can be complex, so it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the legal process, as well as help you navigate the complex rules and procedures involved in filing a lawsuit.
Next Steps: What to Do If You Face Pregnancy Discrimination at Work
If you believe you have faced pregnancy discrimination at work, there are steps you can take to protect your rights. Here are some things you should consider doing:
Document everything. Keep a record of any incidents of discrimination, including the date, time, and what happened. This can be helpful if you need to file a complaint or lawsuit later on.
Report the discrimination. Talk to your employer’s human resources department or file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the similar agency in your state, such as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
A Skilled Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights
Pregnancy discrimination is illegal and employees have the right to be free from discrimination at work. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of pregnancy, it’s important to understand your rights and take action to protect them.
Consult with an attorney. As mentioned earlier, an attorney can help you understand your rights and the legal process, as well as help you navigate the complex rules and procedures involved in filing a lawsuit.
Gordon Law Group, LLP is a recognized leader when it comes to employee advocacy. Our firm’s focus is on employment law, and our legal team has decades of experience holding employers accountable for unlawful discriminatory actions. Our pregnancy discrimination attorneys and legal staff represent victims of pregnancy discrimination at all levels and stages of their careers — from service workers to senior executives — in all industries and in all workplace settings.
If you believe you were the victim of unlawful discrimination because of a potential, current or recent pregnancy, contact Gordon Law Group, LLP today to schedule a consultation.