Introduction to Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy should be a wonderful, fulfilling life experience, but it can also raise unique issues in a woman’s work life. Pregnancy may affect a woman’s ability to work, but this depends upon the individual, the job duties, and the timing. You are not required to disclose your pregnancy to your employer unless it interferes with your ability to perform your job duties. Your employer can only require you to take a leave of absence from work if you can no longer reasonably perform your job duties due to your pregnancy.
Pregnancy discrimination is often based on outmoded stereotypes, and is often a form of gender discrimination. Discrimination can be evidenced by company policies, discriminatory “downsizing,” “reorganization,” and other personnel decisions, and by comments like “she can’t handle the work anymore now that she is pregnant” or “a pregnant woman does not belong in the workplace.” Sometimes the discrimination is more subtle, and can be apparent in getting passed over for a promotion, denial of bonuses, and other discretionary personnel decisions.
Pregnancy discrimination affects women in a wide variety of workplaces. It is not found only at more traditionally male workplaces such as factories and construction jobs, but also in retail, office jobs, and at high levels in large corporations. In fact, women who work in high-pressure white collar jobs requiring substantial hours often face the most subtle – and most severe – forms of pregnancy discrimination.
PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION IS PROHIBITED UNDER OHIO & FEDERAL LAW
Federal law provides several protections to pregnant workers. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment based on pregnancy, including hiring, firing, promotions, assignments, layoffs, training, benefits, and so forth. The PDA also provides that a pregnant employee must be treated and accommodated just like any other temporarily disabled employee. The PDA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for unpaid, job-protected leave for 12 weeks for the birth of a child, for both the mother and the father. Ohio law provides additional protections to those who work for smaller employers.
Do not think that you no longer have a claim because you are no longer pregnant. While statutes of limitations can be short, particularly under the PDA, you can nonetheless pursue a claim after you have given birth. It is important to protect your rights, and sometimes pregnancy discrimination can have severe, lasting effects on an individual’s compensation and opportunities for promotion.
Retaliation is Also Prohibited
Both Ohio and federal law include protections against retaliation. This means that if an employer takes an “adverse employment action” against (i.e., punishes) an employee because the employee complained about discrimination in the workplace (or engaged in another “protected activity”), the employee can file a lawsuit specifically for retaliation. It is common for lawsuits to include cases for both discrimination and retaliation.
Contact The Durst Law Firm if You Are Subjected to Pregnancy Discrimination
We have extensive experience helping people who have been discriminated against, harassed and fired. If you have a pregnancy discrimination case, we will help you through every stage until justice is done. Call us today at (513) 621-4999 or request an appointment to meet with us.