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Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Jun 06, 2022

Pregenancy discrimination is a reality faced by many women in the workplace whether they are in low-wage, physically demanding occupations, high-wage occupations, or even workplaces dedicated to supporting women. So, what exactly is pregnancy discrimination? Pregnancy discrimination is essentially mistreating a job applicant or an employee because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Furthermore, pregnancy discrimination can also include retaliation for taking paid family leave, for example firing or demoting an employee because they took time off from work due to pregnancy.

Some of the more common examples of pregnancy based discrimination include:

  • Not being offered a job because you are visibly pregnant.
  • Being denied a bonus when you are pregnant, whereas other similarly situated employees have received one. 
  • Being fired upon telling your employer that you plan to take time off due to being pregnant. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of your child, and your job is protected during this leave period.

It is also important to remember that pregnancy discrimination also covers pregnancy-related medical conditions, like breastfeeding, infertility, etc. For instance, it is against the law to discriminate against an employee because they want to breastfeed their child.  A hostile workplace environment that results because of your pregnancy is also prohibited. For example, if you are being subjected to jokes or discriminatory comments in the workplace, this might give rise to a hostile work environment claim.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 is a federal statute which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy. Under the PDA pregnancy is basically treated as a temporary disability. This means that, if you are pregnant, your employer must treat you as he would any other employee with a temporary disability. Among some of the protections offered by the PDA include prohibiting an employer from firing you from your position or modify your position if you are pregnant. An employer must also allow you to continue working as long as you are able to and cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations. Furthermore, states also might have their own pregnancy based anti-discrimination laws which might offer the same or tougher protections to victims of such behavior. 

What to do if you are the victim of pregnancy discrimination?

If you are facing pregnancy discrimination at your job, the following steps could be very helpful to your case:

  • Take notes on the discriminatory behavior you are facing, including details of the incidents, dates, times etc. This will be very useful in gathering evidence to prove your claim. 
  • Report your concerns in writing to your supervisor and human resources department by telling them about the behavior you are facing.  
  • Follow company rules and procedures. If your company has an employee handbook or established procedures about what to do if you are facing discriminatory behavior, save a copy and follow the process.
  • Preserve any information or documentation you might have related to the discriminatory behavior such as texts, pictures, etc. This might be useful as evidence to prove your claim. 

Contact an experienced Hostile Work Environment attorney today 

If you have a viable pregnancy discrimination claim under the law, then you can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as with any pertinent state agency. Under the pregnancy discrimination act, any complaint of discrimination must be filed with the EEOC within specified time limits. You may also be entitled to receive damages for the pregnancy discrimination you have faced. 

Here at the law offices of Barrett & Farahany we are well-versed in all aspects of a pregnancy discrimination claim. Contact us today to speak to our pregnancy discrimination attorneys for a free consultation. 

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.

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When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

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