Five Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination

posted by Charles Joseph  |  Sep 5, 2019 1:58 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York


Pregnancy discrimination means treating someone unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition. It can also include retaliation for taking paid family leave.

Federal, state, and local laws protect employees from pregnancy discrimination. However, many workers don't realize what is pregnancy discrimination and what can you do about pregnancy discrimination.

1. Employers cannot make hiring or firing decisions based on pregnancy.

It's against the law to make employment decisions based on a current or past pregnancy. That means employers cannot refuse to hire a pregnant job applicant. They also cannot fire an employee for getting pregnant.

These protections also cover pregnancy-related conditions. For example, companies cannot fire employees for using the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take parental leave. They also cannot fire employees for choosing to breastfeed a child. 

2. Employers cannot discriminate against pregnant employees. 

In addition to protecting employees from wrongful termination, pregnancy discrimination laws also ban discrimination based on pregnancy. That means employers cannot treat an employee less favorably because of stereotypes or assumptions about pregnant women. 

For example, employers cannot refuse to give a pregnant employee her bonus because she "seems less committed" to her job. Similarly, employers cannot give pregnant employees a less favorable shift or refuse to authorize overtime because of pregnancy.

3. Pregnancy discrimination laws also cover pregnancy-related medical conditions.

Pregnancy discrimination laws protect women during pregnancy. However, they also cover pregnancy-related medical condition. This includes lactation and breastfeeding, infertility, and abortion. 

Employers cannot make employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotions, or bonuses, based on a pregnancy-related medical condition.

4. Pregnancy may qualify as a disability under the ADA.

In some circumstances, pregnancy or a post-pregnancy condition may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If the condition substantially limits a major life activity or the normal functioning of a bodily system, women may have ADA protections. For example, conditions such as preeclampsia, post-partum depression, and gestational diabetes can qualify as ADA disabilities.

5. Harassment because of pregnancy can violate hostile work environment laws.

Employees who face workplace harassment because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition have protections under hostile work environment laws.

It is against the law to target pregnant employees with hostile comments, offensive behavior, or other actions that create a hostile work environment. An employment lawyer can help victims of hostile work environment understand their legal protections.

What can you do about pregnancy discrimination?

If you've faced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, an employment lawyer can help. In the New York City area, contact Charles Joseph for a free, confidential consultation about pregnancy discrimination.

You can also read more about your rights under New York prengnacy discrimination laws

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law and workplace discrimination. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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