Despite recent progress in the area of equal rights, pregnancy discrimination remains rampant in today’s workplace. According to a recent New York Times article, pregnancy-related discrimination charges have risen 35 percent over the last decade. The article goes on to discuss how according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), one in five discrimination charges brought by women is pregnancy-related. Another related article describes that since 2001, the EEOC has resolved approximately 52,000 pregnancy-related discrimination cases, resulting in $150.5 million in damages being paid out.
In another blatant example of pregnancy discrimination, a lawsuit was recently filed against a Chick-Fil-A franchise restaurant for refusing to hire a pregnant woman. According to the suit, Heather Morrison interviewed for the position of team member with the restaurant’s owner. At the time of her interview, Morrison was six months pregnant. During the interview, the owner asked Morrison a series of pregnancy-related questions, including how long she had been pregnant, when her child was due, her child-caring plans after giving birth, and how much maternity leave she planned on taking. Morrison alleged that although she believed the questions were clearly inappropriate, she answered them because she wanted the position. The lawsuit goes on to allege that three days after Morrison’s interview, the restaurant’s owner called Morrison to inform her that he would not be hiring her. What’s worse, the owner told Morrison to call him back when she had her baby and had a child care plan in place. At that point, the owner should have just put up a sign saying: “We discriminate against pregnant women.”
The lawsuit is seeking back pay, monetary damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
I highly doubt that this case ever reaches a jury. When discrimination is this blatant, a settlement will occur at some point before trial.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Ohio and federal law. In Ohio, R.C. § 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.” Additionally, R.C. § 4112.01(B) makes clear that: “For the purposes of divisions (A) to (F) of section 4112.02 of the Revised Code, the terms “because of sex” and “on the basis of sex” include, but are not limited to, 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. 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, and nothing in division (B) of section 4111.17 of the Revised Code shall be interpreted to permit otherwise.”
If you are facing discrimination or harassment simply because you are pregnant, protect your legal rights — call the right attorney. Employers cannot harass, fire, wrongfully terminate, discriminate against, demote, or wrongfully discipline a female employee just because she got pregnant. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from the Spitz law firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims. Our pregnancy discrimination lawyers know your rights and will fight to protect them.
The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to pregnancy discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of the Spitz law firm or any individual attorney.