Pregnancy Discrimination

All Americans have a right to work and earn a living in a fair, open, and competitive environment regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. The same is true of expectant mothers. Learning that you are expecting a new baby is one of the most exciting and wonderful things a person can experience, and it should be a joyful occasion, celebrated by all. Sadly, for many women, finding out they are pregnant means the threat of losing a career. This fear affects blue collar and white collar women alike.

Many employers feel that pregnancy equals diminished abilities, or they presume that a pregnant woman will be unfocused or unable to continue doing her job. While these may be completely unfair and untrue assumptions, they underlie serious discriminatory employment actions. If you have suffered an adverse employment action such as termination or reduction in hours due to your pregnancy, contact Five Points Law Group today.

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you have lost a job or had your hours reduced because you are pregnant, you may have a claim against your employer for pregnancy discrimination. There are two laws that offer specific protections for expecting mothers.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): This federal law prohibits discrimination that is based on pregnancy. This applies to situations involving termination, hiring, pay rate, determinations about job assignments, hours, leave, training, relocation, and even health insurance coverage. Basically, if your pregnancy is the basis for an employer making a decision that singles you out for negative and different treatment with respect to your job, then you may have a case.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Pregnant mothers have a right to take off time from work to be with their newborn babies in many cases. While this federal law does not apply to everyone, for those it does cover, the protections can be useful. In general, when the law applies, a new mother has a right to take up to 12 weeks of leave to be with a new baby and to recover from labor and delivery. Mothers must use any paid leave or sick time first, but this requires employers let the worker return after leave without adverse consequences.

Can an Employer Ask About Pregnancy?
Technically yes. The law does not prohibit questions about pregnancy outright; however, such questions may be a sign of discrimination. For instance, consider a situation in which a woman is up for a big promotion. The supervisor asks whether she is pregnant. She replies that she is, and suddenly, without any explanation, she is denied the promotion she previously was promised. This can be a strong red flag.
Excuses Employers Use for Pregnancy Discrimination

Most employers will not come right out and say you are being laid off or demoted to a lesser position in the company because of your pregnancy. Instead, they will usually rely on pretexts, including comments like these:

  • We are concerned that you may no longer be able to physically do the job.
  • Wouldn’t you rather spend the time with your kids now?
  • The job requires a lot of long hours, so it should really be held by someone who is not tied to other obligations.
  • Are you sure you will be able to keep these hours now?
  • Is your husband going to be okay with this? We would not want to cause problems at home.

As you can tell, these types of remarks reveal a deeper sense of sexism and a presumption that women cannot be mothers and career-focused at the same time.

Get Help and Protect Your Rights

If you are a working mom or expectant mother who has lost a job or suffered a negative employment action as a result of becoming pregnant, you may have a right to be compensated for your losses. In general, not all employers and employees are covered by the law, and there are short time limits that apply to filing a claim, so contact Five Points Law Group to talk to an attorney today.

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