There are many employment discrimination issues that converge when a woman becomes pregnant. For example, a woman may have a trouble pregnancy, and this may cause issues that are related to disability discrimination. Another issue that may occur is family medical leave after birth. Inherently, only women can get pregnant, and therefore, pregnancy discrimination claims inherently in twined with sex discrimination issues. Because of this, if you believe you have encountered pregnancy discrimination, you should consider contacting an employment discrimination attorney.
What laws protect is pregnancy discrimination?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act & Texas Labor Code
This law was passed by Congress as an amendment to title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 as it relates to sex discrimination. The pregnancy discrimination act has brought protections for many of the issues surrounding pregnancy including pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding, and other pregnancy–related health conditions. Similarly, the Texas labor code also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy.
What can’t an employer do to pregnant workers
Some examples of prohibited employment actions against pregnant / new parent workers are:
- Refusing to hire;
- Refusing to promote;
- Denying benefits (i.e. health insurance);
- Forcing a pregnant worker to take a leave before it is needed;
- Denying leave to a pregnant employee when similar leave has been granted in the past to other employees for non-pregnancy related issues;
- Denying the accrual of seniority while out on pregnancy leave;
- Denying leave to care for a newborn when the employer has allowed people leave in the past;
- Failing to reinstate a worker after pregnancy leave; and
- Establishing an arbitrary rule about when a pregnant worker must leave the workforce.
Am I entitled to paid leave?
In Texas, there is no requirement for paid medical leave. However, if an employer has the policy of paying for sick leave, whether that may be for employees taking leave under the FMLA (“Family Medical Leave Act”) or otherwise, but refuses to provide paid sick leave for pregnant women, this could create an issue of pregnancy discrimination. Essentially, paid medical leave, like any other treatment protected by the PDA, must be applied to pregnant workers in a similar manner that it would be applied to an employee who, although is not pregnant, has a similar limiting condition.
Examples of pregnancy discrimination
With most cases of discrimination, employers will not overtly state their discriminatory intent before they take a negative employment action against a pregnant employee. Of course, there are cases in which the employer is full throated about their intentions to rid themselves or otherwise discriminate against pregnant employees. Courts have held that circumstantial evidence is enough to support a finding of pregnancy discrimination.
Some examples of pregnancy discrimination may include:
- Terminating an employee shortly after informing her employer that she is pregnant;
- Failing to accommodate a pregnant employee with light duty;
- Failing to provide equipment which would make the pregnant employee able to do her job;
- Failing to allow a woman a place to breast-feed her child after birth.
What if my employer did not know I was pregnant?
Courts have held that in order for an employer to have liability under the pregnancy discrimination act, the employer does need to know that the worker was pregnant. However, the employer does not specifically have to be told that the employee is pregnant. For example, a pregnant who is “showing” might be enough to inform the employer that she is pregnant. Similarly, and employee who is not pregnant but suspected to be pregnant due to weight or other reasons may assert a claim and is he discrimination based on “perceived pregnancy.”
Contact me if you think your employer subjected you to pregnancy discrimination
Like many discrimination claims, pregnancy discrimination has a short time frame for asserting a claim of pregnancy discrimination. If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you because you are pregnant, I encourage you to contact me, a pregnancy discrimination lawyer, to schedule a consultation.