Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

April 17, 2019

Discriminating or harassing against some because of their pregnancy is illegal at any stage of the employment process. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was put in place to provide those very employees with protection from these wrongful acts. The PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against woman in making employment decisions as result of their pregnancy. An employer cannot make hiring, firing, compensation, job assignment or promotion decisions based on whether or not someone is pregnant.

Failure to Hire Due to Pregnancy

Under federal law, pregnant applicants are currently protected from discrimination in all stages of the employment process. The protections stem from several different sources of Federal law including the Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The protections offered through Title VII protect employees or potential employees from discrimination on the basis of their gender. This protection applies in situations where a potential employee is discriminated against due to their pregnancy. Title VII applies to any employers in the country who employ more than 15 people.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act goes on to expand these protections offered to pregnant applicants. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.”

Failure to Accommodate – Pregnancy

Federal and state law both mandate that employees who are expecting are entitled to request necessary accommodations and cannot be discriminated against for requesting them. In terms of federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides these protections for pregnant employees. While most states provide similar protections. In California, the state law is more expansive than of Title VII. While Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, California law applies to any employer with 5 or more employees.

According to the EEOC, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.”

Discrimination and Harassment

According to the EEOC, “It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.” An employer cannot discriminate against or harass an employee because they are pregnant.

The law protects employees from harassment in the workplace, no matter who the harasser is. An employer can be liable for harassment by supervisors, co-workers and even their customers. Once an employer is notified of the harassment, they have a legal duty to take steps in order for the harassment to stop.

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to discrimination and harassment  in the workplace because of their pregnancy,  then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing retaliation are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.