Pregnancy can be one of the most joyous and yet most difficult periods in a woman’s life. A pregnant woman must handle the physical and emotional changes that come with pregnancy while also navigating through what may be new challenges in the workplace. Unfortunately, that can be because some companies discriminate against pregnant women, even though it’s wrong and illegal to do so. Pregnant women have the same right as men to advancements, promotions, and fair treatment, and yet, some workplaces continue to mistreat pregnant women simply because they have made the choice to start a family.
At The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C., we strongly believe in protecting workers’ rights. Women, like men, should be able to experience the joy and happiness of starting a family and the satisfaction of advancing their careers and earning a paycheck. You don’t have to choose one or the other. Employers that discriminate against pregnant women are breaking the law and repressing the rights of women everywhere.
We believe that organizations that engage in this type of unfair discrimination need to be held accountable for their actions. If you or someone close to you is experiencing discrimination in the workplace because of a pregnancy, contact the New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyers at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. for help exploring your legal options. If your rights have been violated, we can help. Call us today that (856) 817-6221 to learn more.
What Is the Definition of Pregnancy Discrimination?
We all think we know what discrimination in the workplace looks like; however, the legal definition of discrimination can much more complex. Technically, pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is illegal. Pregnancy discrimination can be considered the unfavorable treatment of a woman based upon the fact that she is carrying a child or if she is suffering pregnancy-related- conditions such as gestational diabetes or other illnesses.
This form of discrimination can manifest itself at any point during the employment relationship, from hiring and firing to handing out assignments and promotions. Discrimination can come in many different forms, including:
- Not hiring a job applicant because they are pregnant
- Firing a pregnant employee
- Demoting a pregnant employee
- Passing a qualified pregnant employee over for a promotion
- Treating a pregnant employee differently than other employees
In addition, pregnant women have a right to reasonable accommodations for their pregnancy, just as temporarily disabled employees have a right to such accommodations. This may include light duty, especially if heavy lifting is involved in your job, disability leave, or a temporary shift in assignments to enable the employee to continue performing her job.
Pregnancy Discrimination Laws
One of the pivotal pieces of legislation protecting the rights of pregnant women is called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This piece of legislation prohibited discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, granting legal protections to women who experienced discriminatory practices.
This legislation was meant to be an extension of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplaces from discrimination when it comes to hiring, firing, working conditions, benefits, promotions, training, wages, and retirement policies. Most forms of discrimination fall under the umbrella of being violations of Title VII and the PDA.
Another federal law that may pertain to some situations is the Family Medical Leave Act. This law guarantees that employees who have worked at a company of 50 or more people for at least a year be given 12 unpaid weeks of medical leave. This can include pregnancy and childbirth. During that time, the organization must protect your job and guarantee that at the end of the leave period, you may return to work with the same job or another equivalent job in terms of pay and benefits.
What Does It Take to Prove Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you suspect that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, you need to contact an experienced New Jersey employment law attorney. This type of behavior won’t magically go away and can make your time both at and away from work tremendously stressful, something you don’t need more of during this time. It is also important to consult with a skilled pregnancy discrimination attorney because many organizations are only out to protect themselves, not their employees. They may resort to employing tactics that can make it difficult to prove your case.
What do you need in the way of evidence to support your claims of pregnancy discrimination? To begin, it is very hard to get an employer to outright admit that they are actively engaging in discrimination. Companies know it is illegal and that they can be severely punished if caught. Victims need an aggressive legal team on their side to help them gather the necessary evidence to hold companies accountable for their discriminatory behavior.
In many situations, this evidence is circumstantial, but it can be enough to show discrimination did, in fact, take place. Evidence may include:
- Unusual procedures: If any employer deviates from standard protocol and procedures for terminating an employee or changing their status, this discrepancy may point to discrimination.
- Suspicious timing: If you inform your employer you are pregnant, and the next month you are fired, this is highly suspicious timing for a termination. Similarly, if you are let go right before you go on maternity leave, this type of action could point towards discrimination.
- Unsubstantiated reasons for termination or changes: If an employer changes your status or fires you and gives a reason that lacks substances, it may be a cover for discrimination. For example, if you are let go because they are doing away with your job title, but post a job opening for your now vacant position, that could hint at the fact the company had ulterior motives.
- Compared treatment of other employees: Patterns of behavior may point towards discriminatory practices. If no pregnant women ever hold their job until delivery, that may be a red flag. If a pregnant employee is being treated differently from a reasonably similar colleague, that may be another red flag.
- Lack of accommodations: As we noted above, pregnant workers have a right to reasonable accommodations during their pregnancy, similar to temporarily disabled employees. If you’re asked to continue picking up heavy crates, for example, that could be a sign of discrimination.
If you have any communication with an employer, such as email or texts that suggest you may face consequences, retaliation, or changes in your job status because of your pregnancy, it is important to keep those materials in a safe and secure location. While many organizations do not blatantly spell out their discrimination in black and white, some may. Keep records of these documents and make note of other office interactions, verbal or otherwise, that may strengthen a pregnancy discrimination case.
Talk With an Experienced New Jersey Discrimination Attorney Today
Women’s roles have changed over the past several decades; unfortunately, some employers’ attitudes have not. Thankfully, the law offers protection to women who may have suffered discrimination simply because they became pregnant. If you suspect that pregnancy discrimination played a role in the change of your job situation, call the legal team at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. for advice.
The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. stands with employees, and we stand with you. If your rights have been violated, call us today at (856) 817-6221 to schedule a free consultation.