Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace
What is Considered Pregnancy Discrimination?
Any activity that involves treating a pregnant employee or applicant unfairly or negatively based on their pregnancy is considered pregnancy discrimination. This includes discrimination because of the employee giving birth or any conditions related to the pregnancy. Some examples include:
- Being fired or demoted for being pregnant or having a child
- Not hiring someone based on being pregnant or having a child
- Not granting pregnant workers the same temporary disability benefits as disabled employees
- Failing to guarantee a worker that has just given birth the equivalent position when they return from maternity leave.
It’s important to remember that some medical conditions that accompany pregnancy can count as a temporary disability, such as severe morning sickness or preeclampsia. Any action taken by an employer against an employee based on those grounds would count as pregnancy discrimination. Contact the pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Zeff Law Firm about questions in your case.
How do you Prove Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?
In short, the only way to prove that you have experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is to show proof of that occurring. In other words, the burden of proof for such a claim is on the person who had experienced the discrimination.
There are two types of evidence that can be used to support a case of pregnancy discrimination:
- Direct Evidence: This refers to evidence that directly implies that the employer intentionally acted to discriminate against the employee or candidate for hire. Sometimes, this can involve the employer admitting to the act of discrimination. For instance, if your employer admitted to giving another employee an opportunity because they were “concerned about your ability to do the work while pregnant,” that would constitute direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination.
- Circumstantial Evidence: This type of evidence can be a little trickier to prove but it can function as sufficient evidence in pregnancy discrimination cases to prove that your employer has discriminated against you. Circumstantial evidence is evidence that when observed as a whole tends to demonstrate that it was more likely than not that you were discriminated against. Examples of circumstantial evidence include proof of other employees having been consistently discriminated against, strange management decisions, and evidence of discussions between employees about your condition(s) can all build up sufficient evidence against your employer.
Can a Company Refuse to Hire you if you are Pregnant?
From a legal standpoint, it is illegal to discriminate against hiring a pregnant employee. Unfortunately, that does not mean that a pregnant applicant will not run into some trouble in the hiring process. Because many pregnant employees require leave and additional time off, employers are often hesitant to hire someone that may come with negative implications for the business when compared to other candidates. They may pass on a pregnant candidate without stating that as a reason for doing so. Many pregnant candidates choose to hide their pregnancies (when possible) to be fully considered for positions of interest to avoid the possibility of pregnancy discrimination. Contact the pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Zeff Law Firm to discuss the details of your case.
Do Employers have to Accommodate Pregnancy?
Pregnancy-related conditions are included under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are several federal protections that require employers to accommodate pregnant employees. First, the ADA protects employees with disabilities from any hardships or discrimination at their place of work. Next is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This requires that employers make job-related modifications for pregnant employees. It also works to prevent discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and childcare, and any other conditions that may arise because of the pregnancy. The PDA also requires that employers treat pregnant employees the same as any other coworkers in their ability to work.
Is Pregnancy Considered a Disability?
By itself, pregnancy is technically not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the language of the ADA does include several conditions related to pregnancy as being covered disabilities for the purpose of the workplace. This can include morning sickness, anemia, leg swelling, depression, and any other conditions that arise from the pregnancy that impair the employee’s ability to function in their job duties.
Can you Sue for Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you think that your employer has been discriminating against you based on your pregnancy, you can file a charge through the office of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is a legal requirement for if you want to file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. However, it is important to remember that you need to file your charge within 180 days of the incident. Some states enforce additional laws that give additional amounts of time for pregnant employees to file a claim. Once this is done, you will receive a ‘right to sue’ letter from the EEOC, assuming they have found sufficient claim in your case. After this, you are qualified to sue but have only 90 days to do so upon receiving your letter. It is important to act fast at this point and find a pregnancy discrimination lawyer to represent you. Contact Zeff Law Firm to speak with our highly experience pregnancy discrimination attorneys today.