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Can My School Discriminate Against Me Because I’m Pregnant? Best Lawyer Answer!

| Oct 12, 2015 | Gender Discrimination, pregnancy maternity rights |

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Best Ohio Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Reply: Am I allowed to take time off from school to give birth? Can I get school accommodations for my pregnancy or to express milk? Should I tell my professor that I am pregnant?

Our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged frequently about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace by bosses, supervisors, or managers. (See Can I Sue If I Was Fired Because I Got Pregnant? I Need A Lawyer!; Can An Employer Refuse To Hire Me Because I’m Pregnant?; Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination Excuses That Have Failed; and Employment Law: I’m Pregnant. What Are My Rights At Work?). But what about pregnancy discrimination at school by professors and teachers?

Many people have heard of Title IX, it is the reason there are equal opportunities for girls to participate in collegiate sports and are girl’s and boy’s teams are treated equally in terms of benefits and resources. Right? Well, yes and no. Title IX, does more than just promote gender equality in college athletics. Title IX states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681(a). This means that Title IX promotes gender equality in all education activities, not just athletics.

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Title IX has specific protections again pregnancy discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination is specifically prohibited in admissions, hiring, coursework accommodations and completion, pregnancy leave policies, workplace protection and health insurance coverage in educational programs and activities. See 34 C.F.R. § 106.31-106.43 (1980).

What does this mean for pregnant students? Your school must allow you to continue participating in class and extracurricular activities even though you are pregnant. Your school can not require you to provide a doctor’s note to continue participating unless they require a doctor’s note from all students with a physical condition. They also cannot make you participate in special programs for pregnant students. Your absence due to pregnancy or childbirth must be excused for as long as your doctor says it is necessary. You should be given the opportunity to make up any work missed while you were out and return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before your medical leave began.

What happens if your school does not comply with Title IX when it comes to your pregnancy? You can file an administrative complaint. This would be done through the Title IX coordinator at your school, the federal funding agency, or the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). If you file an administrative complaint, and your school is found to be out of compliance with Title IX, then your school must fix any problems or the OCR may suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue federal assistance to your school. OCR Case Processing Manual, U.S. Department of Education, Article IV (Jan. 2010),

An alternative to an administrative complaint is a private right of action. You do not need to exhaust your administrative remedies to pursue a private right of action. See Cannon v. Univ. of Chicago. In a private right of action the court can award the plaintiff-student (that means you!) monetary damages (that means money!). See Franklin v. Gwinnett Cnty. Pub. Schs. There are no limits to the amount of Title IX damages.

Recently A student at Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs in Missouri filed an administrative complaint against her school, alleging that it violated Title IX when it refused to recognize childbirth as an excused absence. Logan College did not excuse the student’s absences when she was out for delivery. Logan College also refused to give her “incompletes” in two courses so she could make up the midterm and final exams in those courses, and ultimately gave her two failing grades in those courses. Logan College administrators failed to investigate when the student raised Title IX concerns and denied her appeal regarding her failing grades.

The administrative complaint resulted in a settlement, Logan College agreed to adopt a policy that addresses the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX under which all pregnancy-related absences will be excused for as long as medically necessary and Logan College will work with each student on an individualized plan for making up missed work. Logan College also agreed to conduct annual, mandatory trainings so that faculty members understand their Title IX obligations and include the policy on its website and in the student handbook. Logan College also will remove the failing grades from the student’s transcript, allow her to complete the two Masters Courses at no cost and reimburse her tuition payments for the period during which she was pregnant and recovering from childbirth. Although the student got a favorable outcome, she was not entitled to monetary damages because she used the administrative complaint process.

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.