Women who become pregnant are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII and most state anti-discrimination laws. Many women who become pregnant believe that they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) however this is untrue, as pregnant women are not considered legally disabled and therefore the ADA does not provide pregnant employees with protection. Pregnancy discrimination is technically a form of sexual discrimination, which is why it is covered under Title VII and most state anti-discrimination laws.
Title VII also prohibits discriminating against women because they might become pregnant or have informed their employer that they may become pregnant in the future. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Thus, an employer may not discriminate against a woman with a medical condition relating to pregnancy or childbirth and must treat her the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. That means an employer cannot fire you because you had or refused to have an abortion.
Title VII also prohibits employees from being harassed and ridiculed because they are pregnant or because of conditions related to pregnancy. Examples of pregnancy-based harassment include unwelcome and offensive jokes or name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule, insults, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance motivated by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions such as breastfeeding. The standard for pregnancy harassment is pretty much the same standard for other types of harassment such as racial and sexual harassment. The word "pregnancy" does not have to be explicitly mentioned for the harassment to be based on your pregnancy.
The most familiar form of pregnancy discrimination is discrimination against an employee based on her current pregnancy. Such discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to hire, fires, or takes any other adverse action against a woman because she is pregnant, without regard to her ability to perform the duties of the job
In order to prove that you were discriminated against because of your pregnancy, you will have to prove that your employer knew you were pregnant. Proof that you informed your employer can be accomplished by sending a letter or email to your employer notifying him or her that you are pregnant, or by telling your employer orally and then confirming it in written form. If you are more than six months pregnant, it will be difficult for your employer to claim that it did not know you were pregnant.
If you feel that you were denied employment because of your pregnancy and you can prove that a potential employer knew that you were pregnant, your employer cannot use fear of frequent absence as a defense against a lawsuit. It is also not a defense if your employer claims that they were looking out for your health.
It is also unlawful to discriminate against an employee because of past pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The key for the employee is to be able to demonstrate that there is a connection between how she was treated and her pregnancy. Sometimes the timing of the decision is your strongest evidence of discrimination.
If an employer allows employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for routine doctor appointments and to address non-incapacitating medical conditions, then it must allow female employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for lactation-related needs under similar circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about your rights as an employee or believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com
If you would like to learn more about your rights or believe that you have been discriminated against please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com