Can You Fire Someone For Being Pregnant

Exceptions To The Rule

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While it is patently illegal to force a pregnant woman to take a different job while she is pregnant, there are exceptions. If you work with toxic chemicals, on a hazardous work site or where heavy lifting is expected these might be exceptions. It may be in your best interest to work in a different area in these cases.

Legal Rights Of Pregnant Workers Under Federal Law

This technical assistance document was issued upon approval of the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

If you are pregnant, have been pregnant, or may become pregnant, and if your employer has 15 or more employees, you are protected against pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment at work under federal law. You may also have a legal right to work adjustments that will allow you to do your job without jeopardizing your health. This fact sheet briefly explains these rights, which are provided by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act . You may also have additional rights under other laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act , state and local laws, and various medical insurance laws, not discussed here.

  • If my employer knows that I am pregnant or may become pregnant, could I get fired?

    Under the PDA, employers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on the fact that-

  • you are pregnant
  • you could become pregnant, or intend to become pregnant
  • you have a medical condition that is related to pregnancy or
  • you had an abortion, or are considering having an abortion.
  • Return To Work Maternity And Adoption Leave

    When you go back to work after Ordinary Maternity Leave you have the right to return to your old job on your old terms and conditions.

    When you go back to work after taking Additional Maternity Leave you have the right to return to your old job on your old terms and conditions unless it is not reasonably practicable, in which case your employer must offer you a suitable alternative job on similar terms and conditions.

    The rules for Adoption Leave are the same.

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    Pregnancy Discrimination: The Basics

    It is essential to understand the rights you have while pregnant before you begin to take legal action against your former employer. The first step is to identify what is going on. If you have been terminated from a job because you are pregnant, this is classified as a type of sex discrimination called pregnancy discrimination. This covers people who are pregnant, are within childbearing years, and employees who have childbearing sex organs. This means that an employer may not neglect to hire a person who is pregnant or may become pregnant, pass up an employee who is pregnant or may become pregnant for a raise or advancement opportunity, or fire an employee for being pregnant.

    Filing A Pregnancy Discrimination Charge

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    Before you can file a lawsuit in court for pregnancy discrimination, you will first be required to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal employment Opportunity Commission or the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. These two agencies have an agreement by which filing a charge with one counts as filing it with the other. This agreement preserves your right to later sue in federal court, state court or both. It is important for you to act quickly because you may have as little as 180 days to file your charge after the discrimination against you occurred.

    Once you have filed your charge, the PHRC or the EEOC may investigate what happened. They may work to negotiate a settlement on your behalf with your employer or suggest mediation. If you would instead prefer to immediately file a lawsuit, you can request that the administrative agency issues you a right-to-sue letter. If you plan to sue your employer in federal court, you will only have 90 days to file your complaint after you receive your right-to-sue letter. Once you receive it, it is important that you schedule your appointment with Swartz Swidler as soon as possible. If you plan to file a lawsuit in state court, you will have up to two years to file a discrimination lawsuit. Violations of the FMLA allow you to file a lawsuit without first going through the administrative agency.

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    Is Leave From Work Covered

    Some women may also be ordered to take it easy or to stay on bed rest, for some, or all, of their full pregnancies. If you work for a New Jersey employer with 50 or more employees, they are required to follow all requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This program offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to manage medical or caregiving needs. This includes things like prenatal care, prenatal leave, and pregnancy or childbirth-related conditions. New Jersey also has its own form of medical leave, referred to as the New Jersey Family Leave Act. This program offers between 12-week to 24-months of time off to care for a newborn baby. This program can be used in addition to the FMLA program.

    What Happens If You Lose Your Job While Pregnant

    Once you begin the process of suing a former employer for pregnancy discrimination, the legal process begins to move fairly quickly. Many people feel intimidated by this, but the system is in place to protect your finances and provide you with support as soon as possible. Depending on your situation, your attorney may be able to reach a settlement on your case before it goes to court. This is often what happens if you have not yet tried to mediate your situation with your employer before filing a claim, as it is a similar process. However, there are cases in which mediation was unsuccessful, but when attorneys become involved, the case can be settled outside of court. If this does not happen, your case will move to court as any legal case does. Here a judge and jury will assess the situation from both sides and conclude if discrimination occurred and how much your employer owes you if anything.

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    Dismissal During Or Shortly After Family

    It is not necessarily unlawful to dismiss an employee while they are on maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave. However, the dismissal must be for a fair reason and following a fair procedure.

    If you are dismissed because you took or intended to take family-related leave, or for a reason connected to your leave, you may have a claim for automatic unfair dismissal and discrimination.

    While on family-related leave, you have the right to return to your old job. Your rights differ slightly depending on the type and length of leave taken. If you are not given your old job back, this may amount to unfair dismissal and discrimination.

    I Told My Employer That I Am Pregnant And They Extended My Probation Is This Less Favourable Treatment

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    It is unlawful for your employer to treat you less favourably because of your pregnancy or your intention to take maternity leave. This means that your employer cannot extend your probationary period because you are pregnant or for a reason connected to your pregnancy, like sick leave.

    If there are reasons unconnected to your pregnancy for extending your probationary period, then it may not be less favourable treatment. The starting point is to check your contract and your employers probation policy. You should pay particular attention to the length of the probation period, if your employer can extend the probation and the requirements to pass the probation period.

    If your contract does not provide information extension of the probationary period, your employer cannot extend the period without your agreement. To extend the period without your agreement would amount to an imposed change, and potentially a breach of contract. For more information, see our webpage on changing terms without consent: Employer changed my terms of employment without consent what are my rights? The law on imposed changes and new for old contracts

    The fact that you have become pregnant during your probation period should not impact your entitlement to maternity leave your rights are the same. More information can be found here: Pregnant and on probation at work? Your rights

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    Follow Company Policy And All Laws

    The first and the best thing you can do when firing a pregnant woman is to follow all of the policies and procedures in your employee handbook as well as any requirements under federal law and state law. Be sure to document your actions under these procedures and respect any timelines and required notice periods.

    I Told My Employer That I Am Pregnant And They Gave Be A Bad Performance Review Can They Sack Me

    It is unlawful for your employer to treat you less favourably because of your pregnancy or your intention to take maternity leave. This means that your employer cannot give you a bad performance review because you are pregnant or for a reason connected to your pregnancy, like sick leave.

    Whether a bad performance review is less favourable treatment depends on the circumstances. If there are reasons unconnected to your pregnancy for extending your probationary period, then it may not be less favourable treatment. However, if the reasons are connected to your pregnancy, then if could be less favourable treatment.

    Pregnancy can be physically and mentally taxing, so it is not unreasonable for your employer to expect to have to make adjustments for you. If you are less able to do your job well because of your pregnancy, you should point out to your employer, in writing, that the reason you are having difficulty performing is due to your pregnancy. You should also ask your employer for a health and safety assessment to ensure that your working conditions are safe for both you and your baby. For more information, see our page on Health and Safety rights for pregnant women.

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    Consider What Accommodations You Really Need

    Sometimes the solution is as obvious and simple as an extra bathroom or rest break, or permission to carry a water bottle on the warehouse floor. But you might need more complex changes or a new job assignment altogether.

    The Center for WorkLife Law, a project of the University of California Hastings College of Law, publishes a list of typical accommodations for common medical issues during pregnancy. If you have medical needs and restrictions, bring a doctors note using clear, medical language.

    Lyndi Trischler was a police officer in Florence, Ky., when she got pregnant with her second child. The pregnancy made much about her job untenable, beginning with elements of her duty uniform. As her body changed, wearing her gun belt became painful, and her heavy bulletproof vest gave her breathing trouble and heart palpitations. Denied a desk assignment, Trischler was about 26 weeks into her pregnancy when, she recalled, I just couldnt physically do it anymore. I was worried about my safety, my coworkers safety, my babys safety. She brought a discrimination claim, and the Department of Justice eventually settled with the city, bringing about a change of policy.

    Pregnant women struggling beyond their limits to please their employers can experience serious health consequences.

    Benefits If You Are Expecting A New Baby

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    What can I claim if I am expecting a new baby?

    Once your baby is born you can claim Child Benefit. Families in receipt of child benefit will be subject to a high earner child benefit charge if one or more parent earns more than £50,000.

    Tax Credits

    If you are already claiming Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit you may be able to claim an additional amount for a new baby or if your income drops or you go onto sick pay or maternity pay. The first £100 per week of SMP and all of Maternity Allowance is ignored as income for tax credits purposes so you may be entitled to more help during your maternity pay period. You should get advice before making a new claim for Universal Credit as this will end your tax credits and you may be worse off on Universal Credit. For more information or to report any changes of circumstances, contact the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900 or see:

    Universal Credit

    You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you lose your job, you are on a low income or Statutory Sick Pay or during your maternity leave. Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay are largely disregarded if you are claiming Universal Credit but Maternity Allowance is treated as unearned income and is deducted from Universal Credit.

    Food vouchers and Sure Start/Best Start Maternity Grant

    Housing and council tax

    For more information on benefits for pregnant women and new families, see: Money for Parents and Babies.

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    Contact An Experienced Employment Attorney

    If you have been fired for being pregnant in Pennsylvania and are thinking about filing a charge against your former employer, it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney at Swartz Swidler. We may advise you to determine whether or not you have a winnable case, how much your case may be worth and how you may assert your rights. Our attorneys may work to negotiate a settlement, attend mediation and interviews or fight for you in court. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

    Taking Paid Family Leave

    In 2016, former Governor Cuomo signed into law the nations strongest and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy. Working families will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.

    As of January 1, 2018, most employees who work in New York State for private employers are eligible to take Paid Family Leave. If you are a public employee, your employer may choose to offer Paid Family Leave.

    New Yorks Paid Family Leave provides job-protected, paid time off so you can:

    • bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child
    • care for a close relative with a serious health condition or
    • assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.

    You can continue your health insurance while on leave and are guaranteed the same or a comparable job after your leave ends. If you contribute to the cost of your health insurance, you must continue to pay your portion of the premium cost while on Paid Family Leave.

    For more information, visit:

    Next Section

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    What If An Employee Wants To Be Off Work Beyond The Time She Is Physically Disabled Because Of Her Pregnancy

    There is a clear distinction between childbearing leave and child rearing leave. Childbearing leave should be handled the same as other temporary leaves for medical reasons. When child rearing leave is granted by an employer, it should be available to both men and women and handled on the same basis as leave for any other non-medical personal reason.

    Under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Law, employers with 50 or more permanent employees must allow covered employees up to six weeks of family leave in a 12-month period, without pay, for:

  • The birth of the employeeâs child if the leave begins within 16 weeks of the childâs birth.
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption if the leave begins within 16 weeks of the childâs placement.
  • Note: The federal family and medical leave law may provide additional weeks of leave. Contact the U. S. Labor Department, Wage and Hour Division.

    What Is Pregnancy Discrimination

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    Pregnancy discrimination is a type of sex discrimination, and it occurs when an employer treats you differently based on pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. A person can experience pregnancy discrimination at any point during a pregnancy or after child birth, as well as at any point of an employment relationship from hiring through the termination of a job.

    Related: Pregnancy discrimination laws in California

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    Dismissal And Statutory Pay

    If you are dismissed during maternity leave you are still entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance for the full period, or until you get a new job. If you get notice pay, your employer may deduct maternity pay for the same period from the notice pay.

    If you are dismissed after the start of your first block of , you should receive for the full period, or until you get a new job. If you get notice pay your employer may deduct for the same period from the notice pay.

    If you are dismissed during paternity leave after your child is born, you should still receive your paternity pay for the full period, or until you get a new job. If you get notice pay your employer may deduct paternity pay for the same period from the notice pay.

    If you are dismissed after the beginning of the week during which you were notified of being matched with a child for adoption, you should still receive Statutory Adoption Pay for the whole period, or until you start a new job. If you get notice pay your employer may deduct adoption pay for the same period from the notice pay.

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