Can I Get Help At My Job
Because I’m Pregnant?
Top Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Answers: Does my boss have to accommodate me when I am pregnant? Can my job accommodate workplace injuries, but not pregnant employees? Can my employer put disabled employees on light duty but tell pregnant women to go home? Can my job accommodate disabilities, but not pregnancy? Can I Get Help At My Job Because I’m Pregnant?
Does anyone remember what we
used to do while we were waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store
before we all had smartphones to distract us? Well, thanks to a dead battery I
was recently reminded. While going through cell
phone withdrawal, I looked at the covers of all those cheesy gossip
tabloids. Personally, I was never one for celebrity gossip, but my mom used to
just eat it up. As I was looking at the racks of magazines and waiting for the
customer in front of me to stop yelling at the cashier for not accepting her
expired coupon, I noticed something. Almost every one of those celeb gossip
magazines has a story of a celebrity pregnancy! They either had rumors about a fourth royal baby for Kate Middleton, (I am
guessing there will be), or were celebrating that Khloe Kardashian’s best friend
announced that she is pregnant. (I admit I definitely cannot keep up with the Kardashians.)
Seeing all that celebrity pregnancy news really got me thinking how lucky these
celebs are that they don’t have to juggle having a real job and being pregnant
like so many working women in modern America. There is no pregnancy discrimination for Khloe or Kim.
Now this may just be the cynic
in me, but as an employment discrimination
attorney, I have seen just how hard it can be out there for women to work
while pregnant, and of course, it seems as though their employers rarely make
it easy on them. (See What Can I Do If I Was Fired Today For Being Pregnant? I
Need The Best Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney And Top FMLA Lawyer In Ohio!,
Can I Get Help Performing My Job Because I Am Pregnant? I
Need The Top Gender Discrimination Lawyer And Best Employment, and Help! My Supervisor Makes Me Pump In A Bathroom!)
Of course, making an employee’s life difficult, just because they are pregnant,
is often a form of illegal gender discrimination.
As our employment lawyers regularly blog about, Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is
a federal law that makes it a violation of the law for employers with 15 or more
employees to discriminate against employees or applicants based on their race, national origin, gender, or religion. There are similar protections for employees
in these protected classes under state law, Ohio Revised Code
§ 4112.01. This state law makes it unlawful for employers with four or
more employees to engage in discriminatory employment actions against an employee
based on the employee’s membership in a protected class.
Now, if you were reading
carefully you may have noticed that pregnancy was not specifically listed with
the other protected classes above. That is because Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act did not originally refer to pregnancy as a protected class. However,
courts have long held that, because only women can become pregnant,
discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is also discrimination on the basis of
gender. Therefore, pregnant women were historically protected by, and able to pursue
claims under Title VII. The lawmakers eventually caught up with the courts and
amended Title VII with the Pregnancy Discrimination
Act of 1978 (“PDA”).
The PDA officially recognized pregnancy as a protected class.
Under these anti-discrimination
laws, an employer cannot take what is called an adverse employment action
against an employee because of a protected class characteristic. In order for
an employer’s action to be considered an adverse employment action, the
employer’s action must cause what the law calls a materially adverse change in
the terms and conditions of employment. In order to be considered materially
adverse, the change in working conditions must be more disruptive than a simple
inconvenience or a change in an employee’s job responsibilities. Obviously, the
boss firing a pregnant woman shortly after finding out about the pregnancy
presents a strong wrongful
termination claim against the employer.
Courts have held that adverse
employment actions beyond just wrongful firing include, hiring; differences in
pay rate, benefits, assignments, and classifications of employees;
transferring, promoting, laying off and recalling employees; advertising and
recruiting; training and testing; providing leaves and accommodations, and
other significant terms and conditions of employment.
The case that sparked the ideas
of today’s blog focuses on the idea that providing accommodations to members of
one protected class while denying the same accommodations to members of a
different protected class was an adverse employment action. The case comes to
us from an Equal Employment Opportunity
investigation into pregnancy discrimination by United Parcel Service Inc. (“UPS”).
(See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File
With The EEOC Without Doing This First; File With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The
Right Attorney; Should I Get A Lawyer To Help Me File An
EEOC Charge?; and Should I File With The EEOC On My Own? Call
The Right Attorney).
You may remember their slogan, “What can brown do for you?” Well apparently,
brown did not do much for its pregnant employees. According to the EEOC, until
UPS changed its corporate policy in 2015, the company would offer light duty
assignments as accommodations to UPS employees who were injured on the job,
workers who had certain driving restrictions, and employees with disabilities (at
least the employer managed to comply with these employment discrimination law.)
However, UPS did not offer pregnant women light duty work accommodations. As an
employment discrimination lawyer, I find that this is a strange place to draw
An unnamed UPS driver claimed
that the company failed to accommodate their pregnant workers. This unnamed
driver claimed that by not offering their pregnant workers the same light duty
assignments the company offered other employees, the company violated Title VII
as amended by the PDA. Rather than go to court UPS decided to settle, to the tune
of $2.25 million. Essentially, UPS knew that it was wrong almost immediately
upon being called to the carpet.
UPS had to pay not only the
unnamed driver but also all of the employees who were pregnant between 2012 and
2014, which UPS failed to accommodate during their pregnancy. Most of the
damages were based on the difference between the short-term disability payments
the pregnant employees received while they were pregnant and the wages these
women would have received if they had been allowed to perform light duty work.
In their settlement, UPS also acknowledged that other accommodations aside from
light duty may be used to accommodate pregnant employees. Further, UPS
acknowledged that their obligation to accommodate pregnant employees under the
PDA extends beyond the pregnancy, and to childbirth and related medical
Chances are that you are not
English royalty or the best friends to one of the Kardashians. (If you are can
you get me Kanye West’s autograph?) So, like most modern women employees you
may have to work while you are pregnant. That is certainly not uncommon these
days. If you are working while you are pregnant your employer should not be
making your life more difficult! Ask for an accommodation, especially if your
employer is already accommodating non-pregnant employees.
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, 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. Call our office at 866-797-6040.
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 if my job won’t let me work
while I’m pregnant”, “my manager started discriminating against me after I told
him that I’m pregnant”, or “How do I find the best pregnancy discrimination
lawyer near me”, 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.