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One of the most recently-recognized protected classes is pregnancy. Pursuant to Ohio and federal law, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment on the basis of that person’s pregnancy.

Specifically, Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(A) makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer, because of the sex of any person, to  “discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.”

Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01(B) makes clear that the term “because of sex” in Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(A) includes “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, any illness arising out of and occurring during the course of a pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01(B) further states that: “Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 similarly prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment-related matters.

But what statements or actions from an employer are sufficient to rise to the level of pregnancy discrimination under the law? A few recent cases are instructive on this point. In the case Majer v. Lexion Medical, the plaintiff’s employer asked others in the office “what are we going to do about that” after the plaintiff announced that she was pregnant. The employer subsequently terminated the plaintiff, allegedly for low sales numbers. The employer did not terminate at least one non-pregnant employee who had worse sales numbers than did the plaintiff. Based on these facts, the court concluded that it had “serious doubts” about the legitimacy of the decision-making process that led to the plaintiff’s termination.

Similarly, in EEOC v. High Speed Enterprise, Inc., a Subway manager told an applicant for employment that: “You’re pregnant. We can’t hire you” after the applicant inquired about the status of her employment application. The manager even admitted to the statement in the applicant’s pregnancy discrimination lawsuit!  As a result, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the applicant.   

Finally, in another recent case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the plaintiff’s employer terminated her without warning because “the baby is taking its toll on you.” The plaintiff was four months’ pregnant at the time of her termination. At the time of her termination, the plaintiff was under no medical restrictions and had no prior disciplinary history. The EEOC settled the case out of court.

If you think you have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, call the attorneys at The Spitz Law Firm today for a free and confidential consultation.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 271-3742. The Spitz Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.

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