Pregnant workers deserve every accommodation to work and support their families without risk to their health. This entitles the female worker to financially prepare for the arrival of a new dependent. Unfortunately, employers do not always agree and some will find reasons to dismiss an expecting employee. Nevertheless, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), forbids discrimination based on pregnancy,
The discrimination against pregnant workers can involve:
- Refusing to hire
- Not promoting
- Not accommodating temporary disability leave due to a medical condition
- Other forms of discrimination or harassment
An engineer in Florida sues
Some may believe that this type of discrimination is a thing of the past, but this is not true. A federal contractor in Virginia Beach, Virginia, violated federal law when it offered and then withdrew an offer to fill an engineering logistics analyst position in Jacksonville, Florida. The company’s vice president rescinded the offer once the new hire revealed that she was five months pregnant.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a suit on behalf of the woman. The agency seeks back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages. It further asks for injunctive relief to correct discriminatory policies and prevent this from occurring again within the company.
New bill could provide more support
Seeing a need even before this particular case was filed, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in 2021 entitled the Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. It was first introduced back in 2012 but now has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate — though the latter has not yet brought it to the floor.
Other pregnant employees can seek legal protection
Pregnant employees who face discrimination can discuss the details of their situation with a lawyer who handles employment law cases. Once they determine that the company violated applicable laws, the attorney and client can pursue a settlement for damages or litigate the matter before a judge.