Discriminating Against a Pregnant Person
What Type of Conduct is Considered Discriminating Against a Pregnant Person?
Discriminating against a pregnant worker is prohibited by both federal and state laws. Pregnancy is generally considered to be a “protected category”, along with other categories such as a person’s age, race, national background, or other characteristics. This means that an employer cannot discriminate against a person based on their status as pregnant.
Pregnancy discrimination laws may cover various stages of the employment process, including hiring, promotions, benefits, vacation, and severance. Conduct that may be considered discriminating against a pregnant worker can include:
- Withholding wages when they are rightfully due to the employee
- Penalizing the employer for taking family or medical leave that they are entitled to take
- Prematurely requiring the person to take leave even though they can still work (usually requires medical proof)
- Not hiring a person or terminating them because they are pregnant
What Other Legal Issues Are Involved in Pregnancy Discrimination Cases?
One major concern with pregnancy discrimination cases is the treatment of the pregnant worker in comparison with other workers who have become pregnant in the past. Employers should strive to provide equal treatment for all workers who become pregnant during the course of employment.
However, since each pregnancy is different, the employer may need to make some adjustments in each case, for instance in determining when the employer should take leave or not. Also, many pregnancy discrimination claims also involve gender discrimination as well.
In each case, the employer should consider legal issues such as:
- How long the worker should be allowed to continue before taking leave
- Finding a suitable replacement for the worker
- Following state guidelines regarding family and medical leave
- Ensuring that the pregnant worker has access to pay increases, vacation, seniority, and other benefits.
Thus, if the pregnant worker has suffered losses or has been denied an opportunity to advance based on their condition, it is possible that they may have legal claim. They can file a complaint with a government organization such as the EEOC for relief. If this is not fruitful, they may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the employer for damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Pregnancy Discrimination Claims?
As with any employment-related claim, a discrimination lawsuit generally requires the assistance of a lawyer. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified lawyer if you or a loved one needs help with a pregnancy discrimination claim. Your attorney can inform you of your rights and can help you seek the appropriate type of legal remedy.
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Last Modified: 03-08-2013 04:03 PM PST
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