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What are My Options if I am Discriminated Against for Pregnancy?

May 11th, 2021

Most pregnant woman do not let their pregnancy affect their career path. Unless there are certain medical complications, there is no reason a woman cannot continue to work well into her third trimester. While there might be some adjustments to a woman’s schedule to accommodate her, there is no reason why she should stop working or have reduced hours because of her pregnancy.

Some employers do not know how to properly handle pregnant employees. They treat pregnant women differently because they think they are being sympathetic, and other employers do it because they assume that these women cannot be as productive as before. Regardless of the reasons, pregnancy discrimination should not be tolerated in the workplace. Pregnant women have options in the workplace to protect themselves.

Women who feel discriminated against due to their pregnancy have the right to voice their concerns with a superior. If the company fails to respond adequately to those complaints, a person should seek a lawyer who can provide legal advice on the next best steps.

What are the Signs of Pregnancy Discrimination?

Most companies treat their employees, including their pregnant employees, well. They provide them with the accommodations and the time off they require to have their baby. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and there are certain companies or individuals who treat pregnant women differently.

Not everyone who discriminates is doing it out of malice. There are those who believe that they are being kind and generous, and they not realize that their actions are having the oppositive effect. Regardless of the motivation, there are certain examples of pregnancy discrimination that can be found in the workplace:

Lack of Leave Time: Women are obligated to receive a certain amount of time to go on maternity leave. Managers must provide this time so the woman can give birth and care for her child. A manager can make it difficult for a woman by not allowing her to take leave time, forcing her to take unpaid time off. In addition, a pregnant woman cannot be fired if they are told by their doctor not to return to work or are unable to work.

Forcing Pregnancy Leave: Some employers force women out of the office after learning about their pregnancy. Forcing a pregnant woman not to work will cause them to lose out on entitled salary and income.

Lack of Reasonable Accommodations: This is among the most common discrimination that pregnant women experience at work. Accommodations could be something as basic as a chair to sit down in, extended bathroom breaks, or an exemption from heavy lifting. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to their employees. A lawyer is best equipped to explain what constitutes a reasonable accommodation.

Prohibiting Breast Pumping: After giving birth, certain women need to breast pump. For a time, it was difficult for women who did not have their own office space to find a proper location. Employers must provide a secure and private space, such as a lactation room. If they fail to provide such a space or force women to have to pump elsewhere, it may be grounds for discrimination.

Workplace Harassment: Harassment does not always come from a superior. There are reports of women complaining about co-workers and colleagues harassing them, bullying them, or making them feel uncomfortable. Even though a superior might not be involved, it is still illegal. However, if the management fails to address the problem, then they could also be held liable for the situation.

What Laws Protect Me from Pregnancy Discrimination?

In the workplace, pregnancy is treated similar to a short-term disability in terms of providing accommodations. As such, many pregnancy situations fall under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws prohibit an employer from discriminating against their employee for a variety of circumstances, including pregnancy. For those who are pregnant, employers must make reasonable accommodations for those specific employees.

Other laws that address pregnancy discrimination include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which prohibits any discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to employment. The law covers a variety of areas, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. Specifically, the law states that if an employer is willing to grant a person who is suffering from a temporary disability to take disability leave or leave without pay, they then must allow the same option for women who are pregnant.

Another legislation option was attempted at the federal level but has not yet passed through Congress. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women to have to take leave if reasonable accommodations are available.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Discriminated Against at Work?

There are options for those who believe that they are a victim of discrimination. A person’s case is stronger when they have more evidence. As a precaution and to protect oneself, any formal request made having to do with a pregnancy should be made in writing. It could be a request for more leave or certain accommodations. Creating a paper trail shows when the request was made and the employer’s response.

Supervisors are not always aware of the actions that take place throughout their company. Therefore, the first step a person should take if they feel they have been discriminated against or harassed is to notify a supervisor. This should also be done in writing with as much detail as possible. This paper trail will be beneficial later if the company fails to act.

If an employee is a member of a union, they can always seek advice from their union or file a grievance with them. If the supervisor fails to act, the employee should continue up the chain of command until they either reach a solution that they are looking for or have no additional options.

If the person has reported their problems to all their supervisors and still has not received sufficient satisfaction, legal action might be necessary. If a victim has not hired a lawyer by this time, then now is the time. A lawyer will look over the case and explain the legal options. They can also contact the company and reason a suitable resolution without stepping foot in court.

What can I Recoup from a Lawsuit?

If the situation at work becomes so bad that a lawsuit is necessary, the question might arise as to what resolution could be achieved through this process. There are a few rewards a plaintiff could receive, but not all of them are monetary. Those include:

  • Back pay
  • Hired to the denied position
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Front pay
  • Compensatory damages, such as emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages to punish the employer

For help with a lawsuit, it is necessary to acquire strong legal representation.

Bucks County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Defend the Rights of Pregnant Workers

If you have lost out on a promotion or are seeing your responsibilities decline at work and you believe it is because of your pregnancy, there are legal options available to you. The experienced Bucks County employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can help you protect your job and salary. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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