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Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer in Nashville

Our Nashville pregnancy discrimination attorneys fight for workers who have been discriminated against based on their pregnancy, maternity leave, or related conditions.

If you were fired or otherwise treated poorly after your employer learned of your pregnancy, you may be the victim of pregnancy discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited by both Tennessee and federal law. Claims may include discrimination, retaliation, sex-based hostile work environment, and failure to accommodate. Employees who suffer pregnancy discrimination can seek monetary and equitable relief, including back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and reinstatement.

Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is a widespread problem: between 2010 and 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 35,000 complaints of pregnancy discrimination. The prejudice against pregnant workers is very real and you need a pregnancy discrimination lawyer who can fight for you.

For a free online case review, contact Rickard Masker, PLC at the number above or online.

Top 8 Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

1. Denied a job after a prospective employer finds out you are pregnant

You interview for a position and have the requisite experience and education. You advance to the final round of interviews but then the company learns that you are expecting. The company’s HR representative says that the position requires a lot of standing and that you should focus on your baby and declines to interview you further.

2. Demoted or having your hours reduced after returning from maternity leave

Everything goes smoothly with your pregnancy and maternity leave, but upon your return you find out that your employer has placed another employee in your position and demoted you into a part-time assistant role working only 25 hours per week. Your employer tells you that this will allow you to “focus on your family.”

3. Denied a break period and place to pump breast milk

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide: (1) “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk,” and (2) “a place, other than a bathroom, … which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(r). Note that the break period can be unpaid, and employers with less than 50 employees can invoke an undue hardship exception. Under the federal PUMP Act, passed in 2023, this now applies to all workers, both salaried and hourly. The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, passed in late 2020, also requires certain employers to provide employees with a private place to pump breast milk.

4. Removed from your normal position or job duties for “health and safety” reasons without your request or approval

Your employer says they are concerned about your health and safety and that they are placing you on unpaid leave or changing your job duties until after the birth of your child. All determinations of the wellbeing of you and your unborn child are up to you and your physician, not your employer.

5. Fired after your employer learned of your pregnancy

You have a great employment record and have consistently received merit-based pay raises. After learning of your pregnancy, your boss turns a cold shoulder to you and stops taking any interest in you or your work. He does not even provide you with your annual performance review. A few weeks later, you are told that the company “is going in a different direction.”

6. Denied reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition

Your doctor provides a lifting restriction of 25 lbs., but your position requires the need to lift 50 lbs. Your employer rejects your light duty request and tells you to find another job.

7. Being denied medical leave for the birth of a child or related conditions

If you are eligible for FMLA leave, then you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for your newborn or newly-adopted child. In addition, serious pregnancy complications may constitute a serious health condition that also invokes your right to medical leave. Note that the FMLA only covers employers with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite.

8. Harassment in the form of “jokes,” insults, or comments related to your pregnancy

Prejudice from your boss and/or coworkers make your work environment intolerable. You hear “jokes” about your changing body almost every day and you are criticized by your boss for your maternity wardrobe. Such severe or constant harassment may constitute a hostile work environment.

Ready to take action? Contact a Nashville-based pregnancy discrimination lawyer today.

Laws Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination

For many years, women faced pregnancy and maternity discrimination without any recourse. Fortunately, there are now an increasing number of Tennessee and federal laws that protect pregnant workers.

Title VII & the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most important federal anti-discrimination law for employees. It prohibits discrimination based on sex. The PDA was passed by Congress to clarify that Title VII also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy (as a form of “sex” discrimination). As such, Title VII prohibits pregnancy discrimination that may arise in the workplace as related to hiring, firing, assignments, promotions, and benefits. In this way, Title VII requires pregnant and non-pregnant employees, who are similar in their ability (or inability) to work, be treated equally. Title VII covers employers who have at least 15 employees.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA guarantees an employee who has been with an employer, which has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite, for a minimum of one year up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to recover from a serious medical condition, including pregnancy, childbirth, or the placement of a foster or adoptive child. During FMLA leave, your health benefits remain intact and after leave you are entitled to the same job or a job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions. Both parents are entitled to parental leave under the FMLA.

Tennessee Family Leave Act (TFLA)

The Tennessee Family Leave Act requires large employers to provide up to four months of unpaid leave to parents for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing an infant. Leave under the TFLA runs concurrently with any FMLA leave (in other words, the maximum amount of leave is four months; you cannot add together your FMLA and TFLA leaves). The law applies to employers with at least 100 full time employees at your location and to employees who have worked for at least 12 consecutive months. The law also requires the employee to provide three months advance notice absent a medical emergency. Both parents are entitled to parental leave under the TFLA.

Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a new federal law that goes into effect in June 2023 and requires employers with 15 or more employees to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is an enormous step forward in pregnancy discrimination protections in the United States.

While the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is separate from Title VII and the ADA, the standards are similar. However, it extends unique protections to pregnant workers, including:

  • Requiring reasonable accommodation for workers with limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation poses an undue hardship
  • Prohibiting employers from forcing an accommodation on a pregnant worker without going through an interactive process with the employee
  • Prohibiting employers from requiring a pregnant employee to take leave (paid or unpaid) if another reasonable accommodation can be provided which would allow the employee to continue working
  • Prohibiting an employer from making decisions about employment opportunities based on the need for reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition
  • Protecting workers from coercion, intimidation, threats, or interference if they request or use an accommodation or advocate on behalf of someone else who does
  • Extending retaliation protections to employees who request or use a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions or who oppose unlawful pregnancy discrimination

While the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act does not contain a list of examples of reasonable accommodations that should be extended to pregnant workers, the law requires the EEOC to issue such regulations in the near future.

Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a relatively new Tennessee law, passed in 2020, that requires employers with 15 or more employees to make certain reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers absent an undue hardship. It is similar to the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. It too prohibits refusing to make reasonable accommodations absent an undue hardship, requiring medical leave when another reasonable accommodation is possible, and taking any adverse action against an employee for requesting pregnancy-related accommodation, including counting an absence related to pregnancy under a no-fault attendance policy.

Under the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Providing more frequent, longer, or flexible breaks
  • Providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing milk
  • Providing modified seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing
  • Providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting
  • Authorizing a temporary transfer to a vacant position
  • Providing job restructuring or light duty, if available
  • Acquiring or modifying of equipment, devices, or an employee’s work station
  • Modifying work schedules
  • Allowing flexible scheduling for prenatal visits

An employer who denies a reasonable accommodation request under the law bears the burden of demonstrating that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship, which is defined as an action requiring “significant difficulty or expense.” However, an employer is not required to provide a pregnancy-related accommodation if such an accommodation would not also be provided to other employees who need a reasonable accommodation for other medical conditions. Likewise, an employer is not required to create a position or provide a light duty assignment unless the employer has an existing policy of doing so.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits disability discrimination. Pregnancy itself is not usually a disability, but medical conditions and impairments resulting from pregnancy (such as morning sickness or gestational diabetes) may entitle a pregnant employee to accommodations under the ADA. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Know Your Legal Rights – Contact Us Today

Do you have a pregnancy discrimination claim? Our experienced Nashville pregnancy discrimination lawyers can fight for you from start to finish. Contact our firm today at the number above or online.

Client Reviews
Curt worked diligently and maintained excellent communication with my case. He made sure to keep us updated about any and everything. I highly recommend Rickard Masker, PLC. Would give more stars if possible. Jeffrey
Curt really came through for me when a previous employer had reported my job title and hire dates incorrectly, he got it corrected within 12 hours of speaking to him about it! I would recommend him for any of your legal needs as he is quite efficient! Renee
Curt was very responsive from the beginning. He made it a very easy process, and he provided excellent guidance in the review of my severance agreement. Due, in part, to Curt's thoughtful suggestions in regards to changing some key language in the agreement that would protect both me and my former employer, they agreed to the changes. To protect yourself during job transition, a review of a severance agreement is a smart thing to do, and Curt will do an excellent job on your behalf. Thomas
Curt handled a case for me and did an unbelievable job in getting a resolution and a great settlement. I would highly recommend him to anyone. Teena