Every pregnancy is unique. Some women experience easy pregnancies with few difficulties and little discomfort. Others become fairly incapacitated while they are pregnant, physically unable to leave home or perform strenuous tasks. For working women, being pregnant can make the workday more stressful and even make some job duties impossible to perform.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, pregnant women are afforded the same rights and protections afforded to other protected classes by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes the right to seek reasonable accommodations to make it possible for a pregnant employee to continue to perform her job. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees is a form of pregnancy discrimination.
Examples of Accommodations Pregnant Employees Seek
Often, pregnant employees seek accommodations that allow them to attend doctor appointments, such as flexible scheduling or time off for these appointments. Some ask for permission to telecommute, which makes it easier to attend doctor appointments and allows the employee to remain near a bathroom if she suffers from morning sickness.
Other accommodations frequently sought by pregnant employees include:
- A chair or step stool for employees who are normally on their feet for a significant portion of the workday;
- Water, food, and rest breaks;Relaxation of the dress code to allow for maternity wear or comfortable shoes; and
- Changes to the employee’s job duties so she does not have to lift or carry heavy objects or perform other physically strenuous tasks.
If You are Denied a Reasonable Accommodation
If you are denied a reasonable accommodation, record the response you received from your supervisor and discuss it with your company’s human resources department. Often, issues like this can be resolved within a company.
If your issue is not resolved within your company, speak with an experienced employment lawyer about your right to file a pregnancy discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To do this, you will need to provide substantial evidence that demonstrates your need for an accommodation, that you sought the accommodation and that it was denied, and that another employee in a reasonably similar situation would have received the accommodation. Your lawyer can help you obtain this evidence and aid in the EEOC’s investigation of the incident to determine if discrimination did occur. If so, it may file a lawsuit or facilitate a settlement between you and the company. If the EEOC does not find that discrimination occurred, you can file a claim on your own. Your lawyer can advise you about whether this would be a productive choice.
Work with an Experienced La Crosse Employment Lawyer
If you have been denied a reasonable accommodation by your employer during your pregnancy, consider working with an experienced employment lawyer to pursue a pregnancy discrimination claim. Contact our team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today to set up your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.