Not Hired Because You are Pregnant? Terminated Because You are Pregnant?

May 22, 2019

Discriminating or harassing against some because of their pregnancy is illegal at any stage of the employment process.  So what is an employee supposed to if they find out they are pregnant during a job search? Are there any protections for pregnant employees who are discriminated against during the interview process?

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.”

Pregnancy Harassment  and Discrimination

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.

Establishing the Causal Connection

The most important aspect of most legal cases surrounding pregnancy is the employees ability to establish a causal connection. Both federal and state law, require an employee to establish a causal connection to succeed in a discrimination case.

This means that the employee must be able to show that there is a link between their pregnancy and the adverse employment action taken against them. Often times, employers will provide different reasons as to why they terminated or failed to hire the person alleging discrimination. The employees ability to show that the actual reason for the adverse action was their pregnancy will be vitally important to any successful claim.

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.