At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, we take seriously the guarantees to workers under state and federal employment law. Our firm is prepared to stand up to your employer or anyone who has violated your rights and aggressively pursue every action available to obtain the best possible outcome for you.
Contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney at Cohen & Jaffe to discuss your potential pregnancy discrimination claim. Call us now at (516) 358-6900 or fill out our online contact form.
What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Under federal law, pregnancy discrimination occurs if a person is treated either differently or unfavorably as a worker or a job applicant due to childbirth, pregnancy, or associated conditions. Additionally, under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnancy-related conditions can be considered a temporary disability.
Consequently, if you are pregnant, your employer must treat you in the same way and give you the same benefits as any other employee with another temporary disability. Some common examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace include:
- Being asked about how many children you have during an interview
- Getting denied a promotion or being demoted
- Being told your employer will terminate you if you become pregnant
- Being told you must continue performing strenuous physical work even though you have told your employer that you are pregnant
- Taking time off to attend prenatal care medical appointment and having your pay docked
What Can Be Gained in a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?
If you believe that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination in New York, get in touch with our firm for a free case evaluation so that we can advise you of your legal options.
If your claim is valid under the law, we can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the New York Division of Human Rights. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to sue your employer for damages.
Possible outcomes of a pregnancy discrimination claim depend on the nature of the discrimination and other factors. Examples of potential remedies include:
- An employer that previously refused to hire you may be required to hire you.
- If you were passed over for a promotion because of your pregnancy, you may receive the promotion.
- If you were fired, your employer may rehire you.
- You may receive compensation in the form of money damages and back pay.
What Federal Laws Apply to Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?
The primary federal laws that address pregnancy discrimination include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Title VII addresses various types of workplace discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was created in 1978 to clarify that childbirth, pregnancy, and associated conditions constitute prohibited sex discrimination.
Based on the discrimination you have encountered, one or several of these laws may apply.
The Family Medical Leave Act Doesn’t Cover Every Pregnant Employee
The FMLA guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to recover from serious medical conditions, which include both pregnancies and caring for a newborn child. This protection only applies if a person has worked for at least one whole year for a company with at least 50 employees.
In contrast, both Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act apply to pregnant employees at companies with at least 15 workers.
The Americans with Disabilities Act May Also Apply
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals from employment discrimination based on disability. Even though pregnancy does not constitute a disability under the Act, some protection can still be afforded under the act due to recent changes in how “disability” is defined.
What Protections Exist Under the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?
The New York Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires New York City employers with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for childbirth, pregnancy, or other associated medical conditions. Based on data compiled by the New York City Council Committee on Civil Rights, an employee’s pregnancy might necessitate a workplace accommodation if failure to do so would adversely impact the pregnant individual’s health.
The Act marks an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law and applies to all New York City employers that retain four or more employees. Under the Act, a woman who is pregnant or who has given birth is entitled to reasonable accommodation of responsibilities so that she can continue performing the essential elements of her job.
It is against New York law for employers to refuse to flexibly respond to a qualified employee’s needs while pregnant in a way that will let the individual continue working before and after birth.
Your Rights as a Pregnant Individual
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should know what they are permitted to do under state and federal law.
You Are Not Required to Inform Potential Employers About Pregnancy
Employers cannot refuse to hire an individual due to pregnancy or pregnancy-associated conditions. An employee, however, must be able to perform the functions of a position.
If you are in the early stages of pregnancy and still not showing, you can elect to keep details about your pregnancy private. Even if you choose to provide information, an employer cannot legally make hiring decisions based on the pregnancy.
You Are Not Required to Tell Your Employer That You Are Pregnant
You need not feel obligated to inform your current employer that you are pregnant, but you may want to inform your company of your pregnancy before you begin to show so a record can be established of your pregnancy at the company. This way, you will have a clear record in case the company later discriminates against you.
You also might need to inform your employer before your maternity leave.
An Employer Cannot Require You to Take Leave
An employer cannot require you to take leave due to a pregnancy provided you are still able to perform your job. You must be allowed to work as long as you can.
An employer similarly cannot require you to remain on leave until your child is born. Employers also cannot prevent you from returning to work after your child is born.
An Employer Cannot Prevent You from Performing Certain Tasks Due to Pregnancy
If a person can perform the basic functions of a job and does not request any changes in job duties, that person must be permitted to keep performing a job throughout her pregnancy. If the individual requests a modification of job duties, an employer also cannot move an employee to another position or change a job due to ignorance or prejudices about pregnancy risks.
An Employer Cannot Deny You Pregnancy Leave
If a company grants leave to temporarily disabled workers, the employer must also grant a person a leave for the period of time that individual is disabled due to pregnancy. If other temporarily disabled workers are not permitted to benefit or leave, pregnant women or women with other pregnancy-associated medical conditions are also not permitted to take leave.
A Pregnant Worker Can Take Time to Recover
If you are mentally or physically disabled due to the loss of your pregnancy through abortion or miscarriage, you should be covered to the extent that your employer covers other temporarily mental or physical disabilities.
Legal Help for Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination on Long Island
Victims of unlawful employment discrimination may have legal recourse through EEOC or the New York State Department of Labor. However, the process can move slowly with those agencies. With our dedicated legal team, you have experience in your corner to help you seek redress for the wrongful treatment you have suffered.
You have rights. Our goal is to see that they are protected. Call our firm now at (516) 358-6900 for a complimentary consultation. We are available 24/7.
For a free legal consultation with a pregnancy discrimination lawyer serving Long Island, call 516-358-6900