While illegal, many employers continue to discriminate against pregnant employees

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects female employees from suffering workplace discrimination based on their “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” These protections extend to activities related to hiring, job assignments, health insurance and other benefits, temporary disability and maternity leave.

Despite laws against pregnancy discrimination, statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show a 46 percent increase in the number of claims received between 1997 and 2011. EEOC data from 2013 reveals that the vast majority of pregnancy discrimination claims were filed by women who work in the fields of retail, health care and social assistance and that New York City ranked fourth among U.S. cities for the highest number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed.

Women who believe they have suffered discrimination in the workplace due to a pregnancy or related medical condition or leave have rights and would be wise to exercise those rights by contacting an attorney.

A recent example of a successful pregnancy discrimination lawsuit that resulted in a $48,000 settlement involved a woman who claims she was fired after her supervisor discovered she was pregnant.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was approximately six months pregnant at the time she interviewed and was hired for a job with an orthotic and prosthetic care provider company. Roughly one month later, the plaintiff requested a four-week maternity leave for August. At that time, the plaintiff’s supervisor confronted her and accused her of intentionally deceiving the company by not disclosing her pregnancy or need for maternity leave at the time she was hired.

While the defendant argued the plaintiff’s termination was related to her “inability to work” and not her pregnancy, it conceded that the supervisor, who is no longer with the company, acted inappropriately and that his actions are not representative of the company’s policies.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Winston-Salem firm to pay $48K in pregnancy discrimination lawsuit,” Richard Craver, July 17, 2015 

Washington Post, “New Statistics Pregnancy Discrimination Claims Hit Low Wage Workers Hardest,” Brigid Schulte, Aug. 5, 2014, 

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