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Pregnancy Discrimination

Fighting For Pregnant Employees Across Ohio

There are a lot of wonderful emotions surrounding getting the news that you are pregnant. Being pregnant and having a baby should be one of the most wonderful and joyous times in your life. Unfortunately, following this wonderful news some employers and companies can take this wonderful thing and turn it into a source of discrimination, harassment, and even wrongful termination. If you did not get a promotion, had your hours severely cut, denied benefits, or terminated in part because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, you know the stress that comes with the thought of trying to continue to provide the necessary support for your growing family. Thankfully, there are several federal and Ohio laws that protect employees through all phases of pregnancy through childbirth. The lawyers at Spitz, The Employee's Law Firm are here to help you best deal with any adverse actions taken by employers against pregnant women and new parents.

Pursuant to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discriminating against pregnant women is an expressly unlawful form of gender discrimination. Additionally, the Ohio Fair Employment Practice Law (Ohio R.C. § 4112.01et seq.) prohibits employers from engaging in any discrimination against a woman based on her pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition or illness. Thus, under these laws, pregnant employees have the right to be treated the same as all other employees or job applicants. Employers with 15 or more employees cannot reject applicants because they are pregnant. At the same time, employers are not permitted to discriminate against pregnant workers by terminating, transferring, laying off, changing job assignments, refusing promotion, or taking any other adverse employment actions.

In addition, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”), which Congress enacted on June 27, 2023, requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship”. An “undue hardship” is a significant difficulty or expense for the employer. The PWFA applies only to accommodations, but existing laws, like the PDA and the Ohio Fair Employment Practice Law, make it illegal to discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. 

In order for the PWFA to apply, the situation complained about in the charge must have happened on June 27, 2023 or after. However, a pregnant worker who was denied a reasonable accommodation prior to June 27, 2023 may still have a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Covered employers under the PWFA include private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations.  

It is important to note that the PWFA does not replace federal, state, or local law that are more protective of workers impacted by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Over 30 states and cities already have laws that provide accommodations for pregnant workers. 

Protections Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Once a woman gives birth, she may be entitled to time off, if she qualifies for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Moreover, upon returning to work, employers must provide nursing mothers with a private room with a lock, that is not a bathroom, to pump breast milk. Your boss, manager, and supervisor cannot discriminate or retaliate against you for requesting accommodations to pump milk.

When Should You Suspect Discrimination?

Women are a significant part of the American workforce. Female workers are entitled to be treated equally and fairly, even when they become pregnant and are expecting a child, or after a new child is born. Your supervisor, boss, or manager cannot single you out, harass you, deny you reasonable accommodations, or fire you because you chose to start a family. If you find yourself saying any of the following about pregnancy discrimination at your job or where you work, the best thing for you to do is to call a top employment discrimination lawyer to help you out:

  • At a job interview, I was asked if I am pregnant or plan to get pregnant soon. 
  • I was told at an interview to reapply for a job after I gave birth. 
  • I was fired after telling my manager that I was pregnant. 
  • My company told me that I was not eligible for health insurance because my wife is pregnant. 
  • I was told to pump milk in a bathroom or a storeroom that had no lock. When I complained about it, my job fired me. 
  • I was given points for going to my doctor for prenatal care even though my coworkers got no points for taking time off to go to their doctors for other reasons. 
  • I asked not to lift heavy boxes during the later stages of my pregnancy, but my boss said no even though he gave another person light duty after having surgery. 
  • My job cut my hours after I complained that my manager was not giving the time or proper room to pump breast milk. 
  • My boss told me that I had to start my medical leave when I reached my eighth month of pregnancy. 
  • My job told me that as father, I can only use two weeks of FMLA leave to be with my newborn son/daughter. 
  • My manager took me off serving tables and made me be a hostess when he found out that I was pregnant. 
  • I was not given a promotion because my boss said I cared more about having kids than working. 

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.

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Facing Pregnancy Discrimination At Work? Here’s What You May Be Wondering

Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination occurs far more frequently than people would expect. Companies throughout Ohio and the United States are guilty of minimizing a pregnant woman’s job or cutting her hours. But sometimes, discrimination is not so cut and dried. If you suspect your job is discriminating against you because of a pregnancy, here are a few questions you may have asked yourself:

Can I Be Fired For Getting Pregnant? What Protection Do Pregnant Women Have?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as well as Ohio law, women absolutely cannot be fired for being pregnant. Pregnant women also cannot be demoted, have their hours cut, have responsibility removed, or discriminated against in any way based on their pregnancy. The fact that a woman is pregnant cannot be a factor used by an employer to make any employment-related decisions that are adverse to the expecting mother.

How can pregnant workers request accommodations under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Pregnant workers can typically request accommodations by notifying their employer of their pregnancy and providing relevant medical documentation or recommendations.

What are some examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers may include the ability to sit during work hours to alleviate physical discomfort and reduce strain on their body. Pregnant workers can be given a parking spot near the entrance of the office to accommodate potential difficulties associated with mobility or fatigue during pregnancy. Flexible hours can be offered to accommodate medical appointments, prenatal care, or other pregnancy-related needs. Employers should also ensure that uniforms and safety equipment are appropriately sized and adjusted to fit the pregnant employee comfortably and safely. Additional break time can be granted to enable the pregnant worker to use the restroom, eat, and rest as needed to manage pregnancy-related symptoms or fatigue. Leave or time off can be provided for the employee to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborn. Pregnant workers can be excused from participating in strenuous activities that could pose a risk to their health or the health of their unborn child. Additionally, they can be excused from activities that involve exposure to substances or environments that are potentially harmful or unsafe for pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or have just given birth and your employer denies you any one of these (or similar) accommodations without proving that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship, you may have a claim against your employer for violating the PWFA and may be entitled to damages.

What else does the PWFA prohibit covered employers from doing?

Pregnancy Discrimination AttorneyUnder the PWFA, covered employers cannot:

  • require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer;
  • deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation;
  • require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working;
  • retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding; or
  • interfere with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.

Does The Law Allow Employers To Require Pregnant Women Or New Mothers To Take A Leave Of Absence? Can I Be Forced To Take Time Off When I Got Pregnant?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney:No. Employers are not allowed to force pregnant women out on unpaid leave. However, employers can request that the pregnant employee provide a doctor’s written permission clearing the employee to perform her job.

Do I Have To Tell My Boss That I’m Pregnant? Can I Keep My Pregnancy A Secret Or Private At Work?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Thereis no legal requirement that you notify your job of a pregnancy or when you get pregnant. However, a pregnancy will obviously eventually start to show at some point. If an employer notices or suspects you are pregnant and fires you, you will have a difficult time proving that your boss or HR had actual notice of your pregnancy. Therefore, it is likely a better decision, although not a legal requirement, to notify your employer in writing that you are pregnant. This does not have to be done through any formal letter or writing. Instead, it is sufficient simply to send an email or text message to your boss saying, “Hey, I just want to share some wonderful news! I’m pregnant.” It is then very important that you keep the email, text message or other written correspondence, which may become critical evidence of pregnancy discrimination if you are fired or otherwise adversely treated shortly after providing such notice. You may also want to check your employee handbook or consult with HR about the company’s policies regarding sick leave, short-term disability leave, or FMLA leave. These policies may have notification requirements that you should follow if you intend to take that type of leave.

Do New Parents Have To Take Maternity/Paternity Leave Right After The Child Is Born? When Can I Take Maternity Leave And For How Long?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney:The FMLA does not restrict when within the 12 months following the birth of the child that the leave must be taken. To that end, should the parents of the newborn so choose, one parent could take 12 weeks FMLA leave immediately following the baby’s birth, while the other parent waits 12 weeks or more to take his or her 12-week FMLA leave. If you are not eligible or your employer is not covered under the FMLA, the employer is only obligated to provide the same type of leave that it provides to other non-pregnant temporarily disabled employees.

As A New Father, Can I Take Time Off After The Baby Is Born? Does The FMLA Or Any Other Laws Protect New Fathers?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney:If the employer is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act and you are eligible under the FLMA, both mothers and fathers are each entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period to care for and bond with a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a newly placed foster child. However, if both new parents work for the same employer, the mother and father are entitled to 12 weeks total leave to be jointly divided any way they choose between the two of them. Moreover, an employer cannot create a gender-based policy that provides that only women get time off after the birth of a child, because such policies would be express gender discrimination against men under Title VII and Ohio law.

Can An Employee Spread Out Maternity/Paternity Leave?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney:No. While they may choose to allow employees to do so, employers are not required under the FMLA to allow intermittent or reduced schedule leave for the care of a healthy newborn. But, if there is a serious health condition of the mother or child, FMLA does require employers to allow intermittent or reduced-schedule leaves.

As A New Mother That Is Lactating, Do I Have Legal Rights At To Pump Milk At Work?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed in March 2010, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), requires any employer of 50 or more to provide an unpaid break as well as a private area to express or pump the milk. The space can be temporary, but it cannot be a bathroom. While there is no private right of action (ability to sue) for the failure to provide the accommodation (although it can be reported to the Department of Labor (“DOL”)), an employer can be sued for retaliating against an employee for requesting accommodations to pump breast milk or for complaining about the accommodations offered or provided by the employer. Thus, it is still wrongful termination if you were fired today when you asked for a place to pump milk.

Can My Boss Switch My Job Or Responsibilities Because I’m Pregnant? Can A Supervisor Tell Me That I Cannot Do Certain Parts Of My Job When I’m Pregnant?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: No. Your employer cannot unilaterally decide what is best for you or change your position or duties based on perceived risks. If you are able to capable of performing the primary aspects of your job, you cannot be forced to change jobs or responsibilities based on your pregnancy. But, on the other hand, if you ask your employer for an accommodation or modification of your job responsibilities, that request must be handled in the same fashion as similar accommodation or modification requests made by non-pregnant temporarily-disabled employees.

Can I Be Fired For Reporting Pregnancy Discrimination? What Should I Do If I Was Fired Today Right After I Told HR That My Manager Is Harassing Me Because I’m Pregnant?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Your boss cannot legally fire you from your job nor take any other adverse action against you for reporting pregnancy discrimination or harassment at work. You have an absolute right to complain and report pregnancy discrimination to your employer through a hotline, HR, or to a higher level boss in management. Pursuant to Title VII, as well as Ohio’s employment laws, it is illegal for your company or boss to retaliate in any way for reporting pregnancy discrimination. Examples of retaliation include wrongful termination, an undeserved demotion, or severely cutting work hours. Again, our employment discrimination lawyers recommend that the best course of action is to provide such pregnancy discrimination complaints in writing in a manner that confirms that it was received, such as by email or fax.

How Do I Prove A Claim Of Pregnancy Discrimination? What Type Of Evidence Do I Need To Win A Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Clearly, if your boss walks up and tells you, “I’m firing you because you are pregnant and I don’t need that kind of liability;” or “I don’t want to hear you’re bitching about a place to pump breast milk anymore. So, you are fired”; then you have direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination. But, if there is no direct admission or pregnancy-related statements, you and your pregnancy discrimination attorney can make a case through circumstantial evidence by submitting evidence to show that: (1) you are pregnant; (2) you job took an adverse employment action against you, which would include being fired, demoted, not promoted, not hired, and so on; (3) you had the necessary qualifications for the job; and (4) you were replaced by or treated differently than someone who was not pregnant, and preferably a man. At that time, the employer has the opportunity to tell the court or jury reason that is not based on your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. You, as the employee, then get a turn to show that the stated explanation by the company is not true.

I Was Fired When My Boss Learned That I Was Pregnant; Can I Sue For Pregnancy Discrimination Or Wrongful Termination?

Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney: Our lawyers have filled this employment website with as much law as we possibly could. However, an interactive evaluation of your individual rights and claims for pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination cannot be performed online without direct conversations with one of our top lawyers, who will need to talk to you about your particular situation and what happen on your job. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, we provide a free initial consultation for potential claims in Ohio. Do not speculate about your possible employment rights and claims when you can best get an answer by calling us today or filling out the submission form on our employment law website.

DISCLAIMER: These answers do not constitute legal advice or guidance.


Protect Your Rights: Call The Right Attorney™

If you suspect your rights are being infringed upon, talk to Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims. Our attorneys know your rights and will fight to protect them. Contact us via our toll-free number or send us an email now to get started on your consultation. We’ll stand up for you. 

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