Philadelphia Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers
Protecting Your Rights During Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
Pregnancy discrimination has a long history in the workplace, and despite multiple laws prohibiting discrimination, it is still prevalent in many industries. Pregnant employees have rights against discrimination at work. At Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C., we have been helping new and expectant mothers fight back against their employers for over 40 years.
Understanding Pregnancy Discrimination
The law prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in various terms and conditions of employment. Pregnancy discrimination protects pregnant employees from employment discrimination and is considered a form of sex discrimination.
Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability under the law. Employers must give pregnant employees the same treatment and benefits as employees with temporary disabilities. This policy should be clearly stated. For example, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence for the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave. Severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, and other related medical conditions all fall under this law.
Pregnant employees are protected under several different laws, including the following.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Under the Civil Rights Act (CRA), all workers in companies with more than 15 employees are protected by federal law against discrimination in the workplace. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. The CRA was later amended to include discrimination against pregnant women with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
The PDA, which falls under the sex discrimination category, prohibits employers from discriminating against female employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, potential to become pregnant, and other medical conditions. Employers cannot allow the harassment of pregnant employees or create a hostile work environment. Pregnant employees must be treated the same as other employees, including receiving company-sponsored health insurance, disability leave, or condition-related accommodations.
Under the PDA, employers must provide reasonable pregnancy-related accommodations for her to perform job duties. For example, employers cannot:
- Deny a pregnant employee’s request for additional bathroom breaks while allowing non-pregnant women to do so.
- Deny, without good cause, a pregnant employee’s request for light-duty work restrictions, such as lifting or excessive standing, while permitting the exact requests from non-pregnant employees.
In addition to the protections of the CRA and PDA, pregnant employees may also qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for certain severe health conditions resulting from pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) applies to multiple classes of employees in companies with more than four employees. It prohibits discrimination and harassment against pregnant employees. Under the PHRA, pregnancy cannot be a factor during the hiring process nor part of any employment practice or policy that excludes pregnant applicants.
Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance
The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance (PFPO) establishes legal protections for pregnant or expecting employees who have recently given birth or are experiencing pregnancy-related medical conditions. The provisions of the PFPO extend beyond standard temporary disability and discrimination protections and include additional permitted accommodations. Under the PFPO, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, such as:
- Additional restroom breaks.
- Rest periods for employees whose jobs involve prolonged periods of standing.
- Assistance with manual labor.
- Disability leave after childbirth.
- Reassignment to an open position.
- Job restructuring.
Additionally, the PFPO provisions do not require a doctor’s note to qualify. The law states that pregnant employees need only to request pregnancy-related accommodations.
What Are Common Forms of Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination can take many forms and be outwardly offensive or more subtle. Some common examples include:
- Refusing to hire a pregnant job applicant.
- Terminating a woman because she is pregnant.
- Demoting a man whose wife or girlfriend is pregnant.
- Refusing benefits to an unmarried pregnant woman.
- Denying promotions because of pregnancy.
- Refusing to allow a pregnant employee previously promised work because she is pregnant.
- Unwanted touching, such as rubbing a pregnant woman’s belly without permission.
- Offensive jokes about pregnant women.
- Docking a pregnant woman’s wages for increased bathroom breaks.
- Calling a pregnant woman offensive monikers.
- Terminating a pregnant woman who submitted complaints about unfair treatment to HR.
- Not holding a woman’s job while recovering from giving birth and taking FMLA leave.
- Not providing pregnant employees the same accommodations provided to temporarily disabled employees.
Maternity Leave and Accommodations
Pennsylvania follows the federal maternity leave laws under the FMLA. The FMLA establishes that qualifying pregnant employees can take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks in one year without losing their job. The law applies to both parents and is typically taken as maternity and paternity leave. To qualify for FMLA, employees must:
- Work for a company with 50 or more employees.
- Have worked for the company for at least one year with at least 1,250 hours worked within that year.
- Live within a 75-mile radius of the place of employment.
How Can a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Help Me?
If you experience pregnancy discrimination at work, you must start by notifying your manager or HR. Keep records of all conversations, promised actions, and results. If you have exhausted all options at work and the discrimination continues, you should consult an experienced lawyer who can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that handles all pregnancy discrimination claims.
Your lawyer may also attempt to negotiate with your employer as part of the resolution process. If negotiations fail, your next option may be to file a lawsuit against your employer. While filing a lawsuit may seem daunting, you have rights. A successful verdict against your employer forces them to make real and impactful changes against discrimination in the company. A win means you will be helping others as well as yourself.
As a victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, it is only natural that you would want to know what remedies are offered for your claim. The court may provide the following relief:
- Reinstatement of employment
- Reinstatement of benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Termination of a person responsible for the discrimination
- Review and revamp policies relating to pregnancy discrimination
- Attorney’s fees
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
Why Choose Our Law Firm
Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. is a preeminent law firm in employment law and civil rights litigation. We have an established reputation within the industry, and over 4,500 lawyers refer their clients to us to ensure the best possible outcome.
We are dedicated to helping new and expectant mothers fight workplace pregnancy discrimination. Our lawyers have represented clients in several high-profile cases, including a federal court case against Okna Windows Corporation that resulted in a $250,000 award for our client.
Philadelphia Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help New and Expectant Mothers Fight Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
Federal, state, and local laws protect female employees against pregnancy-related discrimination. You can enforce your rights if you have experienced pregnancy discrimination. Contact our Philadelphia pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online 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, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.