Pregnancy is no cause for termination
June 14, 2016
For most, the expectation that a new baby will come into their lives is a joyous and exciting process, but it isn’t easy and can be downright expensive. For a pregnant woman, it’s no time to worry about losing her job, and legally she shouldn’t have to. Both Federal and New Jersey law prohibit the firing, refusal to hire, or refusal to advance a woman in her job because she is pregnant. Instead, employers are expected to make reasonable accommodations, such as offering more breaks, workarounds for heavy lifting, and time off for doctor’s appointments.
A real concern
Even though it is against the law to terminate a woman from her job because she is pregnant, it doesn’t mean that there is no cause for concern. Between 2011-2014 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a total of 44 lawsuits that involved pregnancy discrimination. Plenty more women are simply quiet about the discrimination. Some employers may not realize that they can’t fire a pregnant woman or refuse to hire her solely based on her pregnancy. Others are well aware, and may try to manufacture reasons to let go of a pregnant worker in order to avoid making the necessary adjustments for her to do her job while properly caring for herself and her job.
ADA and FMLA protection
In 2008, provisions were added to the Americans with Disabilities Act that would cover pregnancy-related conditions, such as preeclampsia, hypertension or gestational diabetes as a temporary disability that would allow women with these conditions to take time using short term disability insurance to be paid partially for time off work if her doctor suggests that the break is needed. If there are no special issues during pregnancy, women are still entitled to have their jobs safely held for them for up to 12 weeks, in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as long as they have been working at their position for a full year. Some of this time may be paid if the employee has built-up vacation time, sick time, or paid time off in accordance with their company policy.
Sometimes pregnancy discrimination in the workplace may not go as far as actual termination, but may include harassment by management, co-workers, or even indifference to harassment by customers or clients. This type of discrimination may cause undue stress and can make it tempting for a woman to leave her job “voluntarily.” This type of treatment is also unlawful.
If you’ve been fired or limited in your job due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, it is not something that you should have to put up with. The experienced employment law attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. can examine your case and advise you further about your right to compensation and other legal remedies. A free consultation can help you gain the insight you need to take the steps you need to stand up for your rights.