September 12, 2016 Category: Pregnancy discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most common forms of discrimination that women face in the workplace. Although federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions,” more than 5,300 cases of pregnancy discrimination were reported to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013, according to a recent article published by The Conversation. The article noted that pregnancy discrimination tends to affect hourly workers more than professionals, as the latter are “afforded greater work flexibility.”
Washington Jury Orders Restaurant to Pay $550,000 for Pregnancy Discrimination
To that point, a jury in Washington, DC, recently awarded $550,000 to a former employee of a well-known fast food chain after determining that she was a victim of pregnancy discrimination. According to the news website DCist, the employee “had been receiving positive performance reviews” until she informed her supervisor that she was pregnant. After that, she said the supervisor denied her bathroom breaks and access to water, and eventually fired her “in front of other employees for going to a prenatal doctor’s appointment.” After a four-day trial, the jury awarded the humiliated plaintiff $50,000 in compensatory damages and another $500,000 in punitive damages.
As a result of this case—which took nearly five years to litigate—the District of Columbia’s local government enacted new legislation requiring employers to give all pregnant employees and new mothers “reasonable accommodations.” California law already requires employers to provide similar accommodations, and further prohibits any employer from retaliating against an employee who asserts their rights to such accommodations.
EEOC Charges Hotel Operator With Illegally Firing Pregnant Worker
Unfortunately, local legislation and private civil claims are still insufficient to deal with the widespread problem of pregnancy discrimination. For example, the EEOC recently charged a major national hotel chain with illegally discriminating against a pregnant employee. According to an EEOC press release, an employee requested one day off to deal with a “pregnancy-related illness.” The employer responded by ordering her to take the week off before placing her on an unpaid “leave of absence” until her pregnancy was over. The employee never requested such leave, the EEOC said, and placing her unpaid leave against her will constituted illegal pregnancy discrimination. The EEOC said that it planned to seek an injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in such discrimination in the future, as well as monetary damages on behalf of the wrongfully terminated employee.
Are You the Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?
If you are pregnant, you need to be aware of your rights in the workplace under state and federal law. In addition to the anti-discrimination protections discussed above, California law guarantees the right to at least “four months disability leave for a woman who is disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” A pregnant employee is also entitled to “return to her same position” following her pregnancy.
If you have experienced discrimination at work due to pregnancy, or you have reason to believe your employer is not complying with all applicable state and federal laws regarding accommodations for your pregnancy, you should speak with a San Jose workplace discrimination attorney right away. Contact the Briski Law Firm today to speak with an experienced sex discrimination lawyer who will fight for your rights.