Yes, Pregnancy Discrimination is Real

Oct 19 2017

When we hear the term employment discrimination, our first thoughts may be a woman not getting paid the same amount as a male counterpart, or being treated adversely because of age. However, there’s one type of discrimination that doesn’t get enough recognition throughout in the American workplace — pregnancy discrimination. It’s a real type of employment discrimination that gets overlooked on a regular basis.

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), pregnancy discrimination involves the unfair treatment of a female employee (or applicant) because of her pregnancy, recent childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

This matter should be taken quite seriously in the workplace due to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978. To summarize this Act, it is forbidden to discriminate against a pregnant woman in any aspect of employment. This includes:

  • Hiring process
  • Termination/layoffs
  • Assignments
  • Training
  • Insurance options
  • Benefits

There are also many key factors to pregnancy discrimination involving certain disabilities, harassments, parental absences, and additional laws.

An Employer’s Responsibility

According to federal and Connecticut law, an employer must treat a pregnant woman just like every other employee. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman on the basis of her condition. If that employee has a medical condition related to her pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her the same way that employer treats other temporarily disabled employees. In addition, other related disabilities or impairments involving pregnancy might be found in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008.

When it comes to pregnancy harassment, the answer is simple. It’s unlawful when it happens on a severe or pervasive basis and could lead to a hostile work environment. This could ultimately create stress for the pregnancy, which is not good for the overall health of the mother or newborn child.

What About Parental Leave?

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you and the other parent have the right to take family leave to care for the child once he/she is born. However, there are conditions. You need to have been working for your employer at least a year, and a private employer must have a certain number of employees to be covered by FMLA (50 for federal FMLA, 75 for Connecticut FMLA).

According to the Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act, you can take up to 16 weeks of unpaid family leave within any 24-month period. There is also Connecticut’s pregnancy disability leave law, which requires employers that have at least three employees to provide a “reasonable” leave of absence to employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition. And once the employee is ready to return to work, the employer must allow her to return to her previous position or an equivalent one.

But what about paid leave? According to Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Law, you may be able to use your accrued paid leave, such as sick days, vacation, or personal days, to get paid during your time off. Your employer may also offer paid family leave. However, FMLA leave is unpaid.

If you have any questions about pregnancy discrimination or have been affected by this type of discrimination, contact the employment discrimination lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., today to understand your legal options.

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