Are You The Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?

June 30, 2023
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Many people, including both employers and employees, are unaware that it is against both state and federal law to discriminate against pregnant women. In addition, pregnancy discrimination is often subtle. Whether you are unsure that you are being discriminated against or are certain but can’t prove it, the best thing to do is contact a pregnancy discrimination attorney to discuss your case and your options. 

What Pregnancy Discrimination May Look Like

Pregnancy discrimination can take on many forms. It can be overt or it can be disguised, but it is helpful to remember that any adverse action taken by an employer can be considered discriminatory. Some common examples of pregnancy discrimination include the following: 

  • Terminating an employee because she is pregnant or plans to get pregnant
  • Refusing to hire a candidate because she is pregnant or plans to get pregnant
  • Denying a pregnant employee a promotion, demoting them, or limiting their opportunities for advancement
  • Reassigning a pregnant employee to a less desirable location, giving them a less desirable schedule, reducing their hours, or giving them less desirable job duties
  • Refusing to grant pregnancy-related leave under FMLA 

Again, any adverse action taken against you by your employer may be considered discrimination, even if they claim they did it to make your job “easier.” For example, a reduction in your hours during your first trimester would quite possibly be considered discriminatory, even if your employer claims that they did it to protect you and your unborn child. Trust your instincts and contact a pregnancy discrimination attorney if you believe that you have been discriminated against. 

Disparate Treatment and Disparate Impact 

As mentioned above, discrimination is not always overt. In fact, pregnancy discrimination is sometimes unintentional. This typically arises when an employer implements a policy that unfairly impacts pregnant workers or treats them differently when compared to other employees, despite the fact that the policy is neutral on its face. Under the law, pregnant women are considered to be temporarily disabled. As a result, the policy must impact or treat pregnant women the same way as it would any other workers who are temporarily disabled. And of course, the policy may be considered discriminatory if it negatively impacts both disabled people and pregnant employees. 

Once challenged, the employer has the opportunity to demonstrate that it has a valid business reason for the policy and that there are no viable alternatives. If they cannot prove that there is a justifiable business reason or that there is no affordable or reasonable alternative, the policy may be determined to be discriminatory. 

Pregnancy discrimination cases that involve policies that have a disparate impact are complicated and difficult to prove. If your employer has a policy that has a negative impact on your job, contact a pregnancy discrimination attorney to discuss whether you have a claim.  

Are You Entitled to a Reasonable Accommodation?

Whether it is a company policy or your typical working conditions, your pregnancy may make it difficult to perform your job, especially as you progress into your third trimester. In these situations, you may be entitled to reasonable accommodation.  A reasonable accommodation is a change to your job, the way you do your job, or the work environment that allows you to perform your job as expected. The following are some examples of possible reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees: 

  • Allowing the employee to come in later and work later because they are suffering from morning sickness
  • Providing the employee with a parking space closer to the building entrance
  • Allowing the employee to avoid tasks that require heavy lifting
  • Allowing the employee to avoid walking up and down stairs 
  • Allowing the employee to sit while working rather than stand for the duration of their shift

Once you have notified your employer that it is difficult for you to perform your job due to your pregnancy, they have an obligation to engage in an interactive dialogue with you to discuss what accommodations may be necessary. Your employer should be willing to consider any accommodation that does not create an undue hardship for them or a safety threat for your coworkers. If they are refusing to engage in the process or are simply dragging their feet, you may have a pregnancy disability claim. 

Contact Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney J.W. Stafford and His Team Today

Pregnant employees have a right to earn a living free from discrimination. If you have been discriminated against at work, we can help you hold your employer accountable. Contact us today at 410-514-6099 to schedule a consultation.