Workplace discrimination takes many forms, including age, race, gender, and disability. All of these types of discrimination are illegal under federal law. A more recent type of job discrimination that has surfaced is pregnancy discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed in 1978 and amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add protection for women in the workforce who are pregnant or have recently had a child. It pertains to those women who are currently employed and those who are seeking employment. In a recent Indiana employment discrimination case, a local restaurant was accused of discriminating against both a current employee and an applicant because they were pregnant.
The first woman in the lawsuit was a server at the restaurant. In August 2010, she told her supervisor that she was pregnant, which she claims was required by the restaurant of all female employees. Her hours were allegedly cut immediately to about 50% of what she was working before she notified them of her pregnancy, and in January 2011 she was terminated. The second plaintiff in the lawsuit was a woman who claimed she applied for a job at the same restaurant in October 2010 but was denied employment because she was pregnant at the time.
In April 2013, the restaurant settled the lawsuit with both women. The first woman who had been an actual employee of the restaurant received $18,000; the applicant received $8,000. In settling the case, the restaurant did not admit guilt, the owner stated they settled to avoid a costly trial. As a result of the settlement, the restaurant is no longer allowed to ask applicants if they are pregnant or require employees to inform their supervisors if they become pregnant. They also must have a written policy against sex discrimination, and specifically pregnancy discrimination, and they are required to have a way to handle these types of complaints in the future. If an employee requires a revised schedule due to pregnancy, her request must be accommodated.
Another situation that arises in employment situations with pregnant women is when they become temporarily disabled due to pregnancy-related medical conditions. According to the PDA, these women must be accommodated in the same manner as someone else with a non-pregnancy-related temporary disability. This may include a change in duties, a different schedule, or paid or unpaid disability leave, depending on the company’s temporary disability policy.
Companies discriminate against pregnant women for many reasons. Some may fear that they may not be able to perform their regular duties. Some may worry that once the child is born the woman may not come back to work at all, or she may be distracted by the responsibilities that come with having a new baby. Others may think pregnant women are not as attractive to their customers as those who are not. Whatever the reasoning, pregnancy discrimination is against the law. If you have been discriminated against at work, contact an Indiana or Kentucky discrimination attorney.
Nick’s Patio settles lawsuit that alleged pregnancy discrimination; South Bend Tribune; Madeline Buckley; April 10, 2013