Nashville pregnancy discrimination attorney Curt Masker fights for workers who have been discriminated against based on their pregnancy 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.
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 Online Case Review, contact The Masker Firm 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. 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 for “health and safety” reasons without the your request or approval
Your employer says they are concerned about your health and safety and that they are placing you on unpaid leave 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.
Contact a Nashville-based pregnancy discrimination lawyer today.
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 that are provided to other employees with temporary disabilities
Your doctor provides a lifting restriction of 25 lbs., but your position requires the need to lift 50 lbs. Other workers who have temporary disabilities are permitted to work a desk job while they heal up. 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.Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The primary federal laws that protect the rights of pregnant workers include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
The PDA was passed by Congress to clarify that Title VII 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 and childbirth. 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.Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits disability discrimination. Pregnancy is not a per se disability, but medical conditions and impairments resulting from pregnancy may entitle a pregnant employee to accommodations under the ADA. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Importantly, medical conditions arising from pregnancy such as morning sickness and recovery from childbirth can be considered a temporary disability. Unfortunately, if your employer does not grant leave or benefits to temporarily disabled employees, then pregnant employees are not entitled to such benefits unless leave under the FMLA is available. For example, if you have a lifting restriction from your doctor but your employer does not allow for “light duty” assignments, then you might be denied this accommodation.Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a new state law that requires employers with 15 or more employees to make certain reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers absent an undue hardship.
Reasonable accommodations under the law 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; and
- 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. 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.
The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits the following employment actions by employers:
- Refusing to make pregnancy-related reasonable accommodations, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship;
- Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided which would allow the employee to continue working;
- 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.
Do you have a Pregnancy Discrimination claim? Curt Masker is an experienced Nashville pregnancy discrimination lawyer who can fight for you. Contact Curt today at the number above or online.