What To Do Next
If you believe you are facing pregnancy discrimination, talk to an experienced lawyer right away. If you are still employed, there may be steps you can take to save your job. A quick letter from an attorney might make your employer think twice about taking action against you. If you have lost your job, an attorney can help you assess the strength of your claims and decide how best to move forward, whether by trying to negotiate a severance package or pursuing legal action.
To preserve your right to sue, you must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or a similar state agency. And, there are strict deadlines, both for filing a charge and for filing a lawsuit afterwards. You are undoubtedly more concerned with due dates than statutes of limitation. However, you must take action quickly to keep your options open. An attorney can help you take all of the necessary steps to enforce your rights.
How Often Are Women Fired Due To Pregnancy
Even though its illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to fire a woman due to pregnancy, employers do so frequently. In 2014, 61 percent of the discrimination claims filed with the EEOC involved either sex or pregnancy discrimination. Today, pregnancy discrimination claims account for 1 in 5 of the discrimination claims brought by women, a statistic which has led the EEOC to spotlight the issue.
A 2014 Ohio study revealed that employers often discriminate against pregnant women using a number of reasons to circumvent employment discrimination laws. About 60 percent fired pregnant workers under the pretense of poor performance, while about 15 percent reported a pregnant worker as undependable. About 75 of the women surveyed reported experiencing unfair treatment only after announcing their pregnancies.
State Level Protection Against Pregnancy Discrimination
While federal pregnancy discrimination law pertains to companies with 15 or more employees in the workplace, state laws often allow women workers with jobs at smaller companies to file claims of pregnancy discrimination. Some some states have had laws on the books banning pregnancy discrimination at work since the 1970s, while other states have only recently added legislation to address the issue. These include New Jersey, Rhode Island and West Virginia with pregnancy discrimination laws passed in 2014.
The process for filing a discrimination charge is slightly different under state laws, but the EEOC is still involved. Employees must first contact their state EEO department and file formal charges there before proceeding to court. The term for filing is also different in comparison to federal pregnancy discrimination claims. Federal claims must be filed within 180 days of the last discrimination incident, while state claims generally have up to 300 days.
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What Obligations Do Employers Have With Regard To The Payment Of Maternity Benefits
Employers are required to provide disability coverage for pregnancy on the same basis as they provide it for any other condition. This means that both disability income protection and medical expense insurance must cover maternity-related disabilities and maternity-related health care expenses on the same basis as for all other conditions.
Any health insurance plan offered in connection with employment must cover maternity on the same basis as other conditions, whether or not the employer makes contributions to the plan. An employer that does not have any disability coverage for employees is not obligated to provide such coverage for maternity, but must still treat the pregnant employee in the same manner as other employees who are temporarily disabled.
If any employer employs 50 or more people on a permanent basis and the employee has been employed for the prior 52 weeks and worked at least 1000 hours during that period, the employee is entitled to unpaid leave under the law in connection with birth during any leave taken under the law. An employee may decide to use accrued paid leave instead of unpaid leave. The employer must maintain the same group health insurance coverage for the employee as existed prior to the leave, with the same conditions that applied prior to the leave.
What Should I Do First
Contacting an attorney at our office, The Armstrong Law Firm, is always a great first step to protecting yourself when you suspect pregnancy discrimination took place. There are some other steps you can take as well preserve your rights:
Get Information About Your Rights
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are the state and federal administrative agencies that regulate and enforce discrimination issues. They offer some valuable resources that provide an overview of individual rights and how claims are processed.
Gather Information And Evidence You Have Of Discrimination
If you have the means to gather information that was communicated to you regarding why you were fired, do so. If you recall conversations with your supervisor or manager that involve pointed statements about your pregnancy, try to write down what was said, when it was said and the names of any others who may be able to validate your claim.
Direct evidence that proves your manager said you were being let go because of your pregnancy is valuable, but so is circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence shows that your termination somehow went against the typical procedures, that the firing did not align with common business practices/strategy or that employer behaviors somehow changed once your employer was informed of your pregnancy.
File A Charge With The EEOC Or A Complaint With The DFEH
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The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers employers that have 15 or more employees. The covered employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on childbirth, pregnancy or related medical conditions. The act covers all aspects of employment, including hiring pregnant applicants or treating pregnant workers differently. Employers are not allowed to refuse to hire an applicant simply because she is pregnant. They may also not fire someone or discipline her for becoming pregnant.
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Can I Be Made Redundant While Im On Parental Leave
Yes. However, if you challenge the decision the employer must prove that the redundancy situation arose after they notified you that your position could be kept open . Your employer must also prove that there was no prospect they could appoint you to a vacant position that was substantially similar to your old job.
Your employer will also have to meet the usual requirements for any redundancy that is, the decision and the decision-making process must have been fair and reasonable. The requirements for a fair process include, for example, consulting with you and giving you a chance to have input into the decision. For redundancies, see Leaving or losing your job in the chapter Starting and leaving a job.
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Where to go for more support
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Can A Pregnant Employee Be Fired In California
There is no good time to get fired from your job, but being fired while you are pregnant may in fact be the worst possible time, especially if you are counting on the income to pay for the increased costs of child care. Employees who are pregnant in California are entitled to significant protections on the job, but does that mean that a pregnant employee cannot be fired while pregnant? Not exactly.
Health And Safety During Pregnancy
I am concerned about health and safety risks at work but my employer is not taking any action. What can I do?
You should notify your employer in writing that you are pregnant and ask your employer to take reasonable action to protect your health and safety. If you are concerned about your health and safety at work, you could discuss it with your midwife or GP and, if necessary ask for a letter or fit note setting out the risks and action that needs to be taken.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say that an employer must assess the risks to pregnant women and new mothers and take reasonable action remove any risks by altering your working conditions or hours of work, such as providing somewhere to sit down or extra rest breaks.
If it is not possible to remove the risks, employees and agency workers are entitled to be offered suitable alternative work on similar terms and conditions or, if no work exists, you are entitled to be suspended on full pay. For more information, see Health and safety during pregnancy and return to work.
If your employer has not dealt with any health and safety issues adequately and you are forced to take sick leave your Statutory Maternity Pay may be reduced. If you do not qualify for SMP at all you should claim Maternity Allowance instead.
It may help to give your employer information about your rights during pregnancy. You can find Government information on health and safety here: www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/faqs.htm.
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If Im Dismissed While Pregnant Am I Still Entitled To Statutory Maternity Pay
If you are dismissed in or after the qualifying week but before your maternity leave starts, you are still entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks or until you start a new job.
Laws And Culture Still Make Women Unwelcome In The Workplace
Even as theyve expanded in recent years, the laws protecting pregnant women at work are patchwork and continue to leave out a lot of women, Gedmark said. Discriminating against pregnant women is clearly illegal. But whether a business has to accommodate pregnant women, by giving them a stool to sit on or allowing them more water breaks, remains unclear.
Different states have different standards for what kinds of accommodations pregnant workers are legally entitled to receive. Furthermore, the definition of what can be considered a pregnancy-related disability, and therefore requires accommodations, remains elusive among lawmakers on the federal level, as well as in states that lack clear protections.
The passing of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, proposed federal legislation first introduced in 2012, would help eliminate some of this confusion, Gedmark said.
It would add a lot of clarity. Instead of this web of laws, there would be a very clear standard, Gedmark explained. If a pregnant woman needs an accommodation and the company can accommodate her, absent any undue hardship, they have to. Ultimately, this would be best for workers and best for companies, who would avoid turnover costs.
Can You Be Fired From Your Job For Becoming Pregnant
Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the most exciting times of a womans life, but for women who work, it can be a challenging time. Many women worry that their employers will fire them specifically because of their physical condition. In the state of Pennsylvania as in the entire United States, pregnant women are protected against workplace discrimination. This means not only that they cannot be fired specifically because of their physical condition, but they also may be entitled to time off for physicians appointments, as well as provided additional accommodations as needed. When an employer acts in a way that is contrary to these laws, the fired employee may be able to pursue employment litigation to get their job back or to pursue compensation for the damage that theyve suffered.
Federal law prohibiting discrimination against pregnant employees extends to employers who have 15 or more employees, preventing them from firing or disciplining a woman for being pregnant as well as protecting women who may be applying for a job while pregnant. It also requires those employers to extend the same type of accommodations to pregnant women as to employees that are temporarily disabled by other conditions and to reject stereotypes about pregnant women or new mothers abilities. The state of Pennsylvania has taken those protections even further, including employers with four or more employees.
I Was Dismissed Before I Told My Employer I Was Pregnant But I Think My Employer Suspected I Was Pregnant Is This Fair
If your employer did not know that you are pregnant, it is not possible for them to have dismissed you because of your pregnancy.
However, if your employer believes or suspects that you are pregnant, regardless of whether it is true, and treats you less favourably based on their belief, you could have a claim for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
We recommend that you consider telling your employer as early as possible, in writing, about your pregnancy if you want to be protected from pregnancy and maternity discrimination. See our article on telling your employer you are pregnant.
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Talk With An Attorney As Soon As Possible
Every case is different, so make sure you work with a law firm that will take the time to answer your questions, investigate your unique circumstances and pursue justice to the full extent possible.
Contact our offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sausalito to arrange a consultation. We can be reached online or by telephone at . We serve clients in Marin County and the entire bay area including San Jose.
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Exceptions To The Rule Of At
Most employees in California are âat willâ employees. What does that mean? It means your employer can fire you for any reason, for no reason, and even for a factually wrong reason .
Even if you are an at-will employee, your employer cannot fire you for an illegal reason. Illegal reasons include race, gender, disability, pregnancy, and the fact that you requested a pregnancy-related accommodation .
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Benefits If You Are Expecting A New Baby
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.
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: www.gov.uk/child-tax-credit/already-claiming.
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.
Negotiate A Better Severance Pay
If you find lawsuits intimidating, tiring, and expensive, you can ask for an exit package from your employer. Severance pay includes receiving your benefits and compensation. Your employer may also extend health insurance benefits that will come in handy during delivery. Try to get the best benefits during this time as you need this money for the pregnancy journey ahead.
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What Is An Employers Obligation To An Employee Who Is Temporarily Unable To Perform Her Job Because Of Pregnancy
An employer is required to treat an employee unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy in the same manner as it treats other temporarily disabled employees, whether by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave without pay.
The employer should provide the same benefits to employees disabled by pregnancy as it provides to other temporarily disabled persons.
Additionally, employers with 50 or more permanent employees must allow covered employees up to six weeks of family leave per year, without pay, for the birth of the employeeâs child if the leave begins within 16 weeks of the childâs birth.
Fired For Being Pregnant In New Jersey
If you were fired for being pregnant in New Jersey, you may have the grounds to file a legal claim against your former employer. You have rights under both federal and state law to be protected against pregnancy discrimination. An attorney at Swartz Swidler may advise you about your rights and how to handle your case.
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:
Note: The federal family and medical leave law may provide additional weeks of leave. Contact the U. S. Labor Department, Wage and Hour Division.