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Can I Sue If I Was Fired Because I Got Pregnant? I Need A Lawyer!

| Jul 14, 2015 | Gender Discrimination, pregnancy maternity rights, Wrongful Termination |

Best Ohio Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can an employer make me choose between having a job and having a family? Can my boss have a “no pregnancy in the workplace” policy? Can an employer refuse to hire pregnant candidates? Can I Sue my former employer for wrongful termination?

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Those of us who are a certain age can no doubt remember the ubiquitous “Baby on Board” signs on the rear window of seemingly every minivan during the mid-eighties. A Texas non-profit has just been forced to pony up to a former employee because of its “No Babies on Board” policy. The case, which, let’s be honest, could only happen in Texas, pitted an employee who was fired specifically because she became pregnant against a religious employer whose stated mission includes providing services to persons with physical and developmental disabilities.

As our employment discrimination attorneys have previously blogged about pregnancy rights in the workplace about, Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA“), which was added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in 1978, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and the PDA makes it against the law to consider a woman’s pregnancy for decisions on in hiring, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, terminations, and any other term or condition of employment. (See Sex Discrimination Includes Pregnancy Discrimination; Top Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Reply: Can I Be Sent Home From Work Because I’m Pregnant?; How Much Is My Pregnancy Discrimination Case Worth? I Need A Lawyer!; Top Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Reply: Can My Job Fire New Mothers?; Pregnancy Discrimination: Employers Just Can’t Help Themselves; Pregnancy Discrimination: Still Happening, Still Unlawful; Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination Excuses That Have Failed).

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While legal protections prohibit workplace discrimination against expecting mothers, unlawful treatment of pregnant women is still an unfortunately common occurrence. As is the case with most other forms of unlawful employment discrimination, the vast majority of bosses, managers, and supervisors will not come right out and tell a worker, “We’re firing you for a discriminatory reason.” Instead, the boss, manager, or supervisor might concoct a story about job performance or attendance issues, or provide some other pre-textual reason for terminating a pregnant worker. Such was not the case with United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc.

Sharmira Johnson worked for of United Bible, which sounds like a benevolent caring employer. United Bible is nonprofit organization for the physically and/or mentally disabled; and provides those individuals both housing and work skills training. A little more than seven months after starting as a resource technician, Sharmira notified her boss that she was pregnant. Sharmira also gave her job a doctor’s note that stated she had no medical limitations for her job as a result of the pregnancy. Within a few hours, Sharmira’s boss fired her and gave her a typed and signed document titled “Relief of Duty Due to Pregnancy.” This smoking gun piece of evidence blatantly confirmed the discriminatory action: “In accordance to the Policy of Pregnancy In the Workplace…you will be relieved of duty pending your pregnancy and that upon your delivery you will be eligible for rehire for any direct care position we have available at that time.” To put this in context, this is the same as if a manager came in and said, “I’m firing you because you are Black,” which would be clear race discrimination. Likewise, a supervisor saying, “I don’t want any Hispanics working here,” would be clear national origin discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination is no different than any other type of employment discrimination. Actually, this case is worse because the employer put it in writing.

United Bible had an explicit “no pregnancy in the workplace” policy and fired any employee who became pregnant during her employment and refused to hire any candidate who was pregnant. The policy required any employee in a direct client-care position to stop working if she became pregnant and reapply for an open position once she was no longer pregnant.

United Bible, who tried to represent itself without an employment attorney, didn’t deny that it had such a policy but, instead, chose the rather preposterous strategy of defending its policy, which is patently illegal, by arguing that the policy was put in place to protect the health of pregnant workers and their unborn children. United Bible even admitted that Johnson performed her job capably, and that her pregnancy in no way hampered her abilities.

A U.S. District Court in Texas didn’t buy United Bible’s lame argument and found that United Bible acted with malice or reckless disregard of Johnson’s federally protected rights and awarded her $74,764 in damages, two-thirds of which was awarded as punitive damages.

If you are facing discrimination or harassment simply because you are pregnant, protect your legal rights — call the right attorney. Under federal and Ohio employment laws, 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.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “What should I do …”, “I’m being discriminated against …”, or “How do I …”, 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, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.