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Recognizing Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include pregnancy as a protected class. With this amendment, it became illegal to fire employees for being pregnant. It also became illegal to discriminate against employees in any way on the grounds of pregnancy or childbirth.

Pregnancy discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, is not always obvious. If you think you have faced this type of discrimination, discuss your experience with an employment lawyer to determine the next step to take.

Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

People of both genders can experience pregnancy discrimination. Although women, for obvious reasons, are more likely to face pregnancy discrimination than men, it is possible for a father to experience this type of discrimination. A few ways a man can face pregnancy discrimination include:

  • Being denied his right to parental leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) or the benefits that accompany this right; and
  • Being denied healthcare coverage for his covered partner’s pregnancy and childbirth needs.

Pregnancy and childbirth must be treated equally to other short-term disabilities and health needs. If an employer allows an individual time off to attend doctor appointments for an injury or chronic condition, they must allow time off for pregnancy-related doctor appointments.

Other examples of pregnancy discrimination include:

  • Asking an applicant if he or she plans to start a family in the near future;
  • Firing, refusing to hire or promote, or laying off an employee because she is pregnant;
  • Failing to comply with the terms of FMLA, which include providing the employee with his or her same position or a comparable one upon his or her return;
  • Terminating an employee while he or she is on parental leave;
  • Requiring an employee to take maternity leave at a specific point in her pregnancy, rather than allowing her to determine when to leave work; and
  • Failing to make reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee, such as allowing her to sit during the work day.

Filing a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Like with any other type of workplace discrimination claim, a pregnancy discrimination claim needs evidence to support it. Document every instance of discrimination you face, such as conversations with supervisors regarding your leave and documents filed with Human Resources related to your leave and requests for reasonable accommodations. If you file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), your case will be investigated and the EEOC may facilitate a settlement between you and the company. If not, your lawyer may advise you to file a discrimination lawsuit.

Work with an Experienced La Crosse Employment Lawyer

If you have faced pregnancy discrimination in your workplace, you have the right to pursue compensation for your related damages through a pregnancy discrimination claim. To learn more, contact our team of employment lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to schedule your initial consultation in our office. We can answer any questions you have and help you make productive decisions for your case.

Published July 30, 2017
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