Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace - 10 Things That May Surprise You

1. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of unlawful gender (sex) discrimination. This type of discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee differently based on her current pregnancy, her plans to become pregnant, childbirth, or any other related conditions or complications relating to a pregnancy.

2. Pregnancy discrimination can occur at any point in the employment relationship from the hiring process to termination.

3. It is unlawful to perceptively avoid hiring someone because they are pregnant. It is also illegal to refuse a promotion or to demote someone because they are pregnant.

4. The law does not provide pregnant women with “special” rights:
It simply prohibits employers from treating pregnant employees differently from other employees. As an example, if an employer delegates a light duty assignment to a temporarily disabled employee (such as a lifting restriction), then that employer must also accommodate employees who are temporarily unable to do their usual job due to pregnancy.

5. It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who complains about pregnancy discrimination. This includes, but is not limited to, reporting discrimination to an internal Human Resources Department or filing an EEOC Charge of Discrimination. An example of retaliation would be to require the pregnant employee to perform a more difficult work assignment in an effort to punish them for filing a complaint.


6. The National Partnership for Women & Families conducted a study based upon data collected from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Charges from 2011-2015. According to the study, women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia filed charges of pregnancy discrimination. The State of Alabama ranked #5 on the list (demonstrating the share of charges filed relative to the number of women in the workforce).


7. Timing is crucial in a pregnancy discrimination case. Unlike other protected statuses, pregnancy is a temporary condition. Any changes in the employment relationship should be noted. It is also important to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options, regardless whether you are still employed, have been recently terminated, or if you may need to negotiate a severance package. Note that the EEOC has strict deadlines for both filing a charge of discrimination and for filing a lawsuit thereafter.

8. The U.S. Department of Labor amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in March 2010 to require employers to provide a reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk.

9. It is a violation of federal employment law for an employer to harass a woman based upon her current pregnancy, her plans to become pregnant, childbirth, or any other related conditions or complications relating to a pregnancy. According to the EEOC, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe as to result in a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision. The harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee (such as a client or customer).

10. In 2002, the EEOC resolved almost 5,000 charges of pregnancy-based discrimination and recovered $10 million in monetary benefits for the charging party and other aggrieved individuals. If a court finds you have been discriminated or retaliated against, you may be entitled to remedies, which include reinstatement of employment, back pay, front pay, retroactive seniority, benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.


If you feel you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination or retaliation, or if you should have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Humble Law LLC, formerly Beckum Kittle LLP’s Paralegal, Lindsey Ehlman by calling (205)358-3100 or sending an email to lehlman@beckumkittle.com.


All calls/emails will be returned within 24 hours.
 

Categories: Beckum Kittle

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