Cleveland Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys
Parenthood is one of the fundamental joys of life. As an employee, you have the right to build a family whenever you choose. Unfortunately, employers sometimes make unfair stereotyped assumptions about pregnant employees, their abilities, limitations, and commitment to their jobs. For instance, an employer might fire or refuse to hire a pregnant woman, believing she will not be as dedicated to the job after the baby is born.
You should not have to worry becoming pregnant will get you fired. You should not be denied a job because you are, have been, or might become pregnant. And you should not be harassed at work because you are expecting a child. If you have been discriminated against, harassed, or mistreated at work because of a pregnancy, you have important legal rights.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and its counterpart in Ohio law each prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats a woman (whether a current employee or an applicant) unfavorably in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, job assignments, discipline, training opportunities, accommodations, leave, health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment, because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. This ban on discrimination applies not only to women who are currently pregnant, but to women who were previously pregnant, or who may become pregnant in the future.
As a general rule, employers must treat pregnant employees the same as non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability to work. There are several common ways in which employers might violate the pregnancy discrimination laws.
For example, an employer cannot have a policy that requires employees to take leave during pregnancy, absent very unusual circumstances. Conversely, an employer must grant a pregnant employee the reasonable accommodation of leave due to pregnancy if the employer would grant a similar leave to a non-pregnant employee who needed leave for some other medical reason.
Another common example of pregnancy discrimination involves lifting restrictions. When an employee has a medical lifting restriction due to pregnancy, the employer must grant the lifting restriction if it would grant a similar lifting restriction to a non-pregnant employee with a medical need.
One more example of pregnancy discrimination involves promotions. Pregnant women might be passed over for promotion or other opportunities at work based on the employer’s assumption that they are less committed to their careers or will not come back after maternity leave. Employers may not make employment decisions based on those stereotyped assumptions about pregnant employees.
Besides less favorable treatment, it is also illegal for employers to harass employees on the basis of pregnancy. Unlawful pregnancy harassment might take the form of jokes, name-calling, physical assaults or threats, or anything else that unreasonably interferes with the employee’s work performance and is motivated by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including breastfeeding. When the harassment becomes so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile environment and unreasonably interferes with the employee’s ability to perform her job, it is illegal. Courts look to various factors in making that determination, including the harassment’s frequency, severity, duration, whether it was physically threatening or humiliating, among others.
At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we have years of experience helping pregnant women and their families protect their rights and get justice for mistreatment. We will work with you personally every step of the way to guide you through the process. We will let you know all of your options and help you make the decisions that are best for you and your family.
Our experienced Cleveland, Ohio employment law attorneys are dedicated to protecting families and holding employers responsible for making the workplace difficult and unforgiving for parents.
Helping Pregnant Women Fight Unfair Treatment at Work
Evidence of pregnancy discrimination can often be spotted by looking for some telltale signs. Employees might question whether pregnancy discrimination has occurred based on:
- An employer’s policy or statement that the employer is making its decision based on the employee’s pregnancy.
- Close or suspicious timing between when a negative employment decision occurred and when the employer learned of the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.
- Lesser discipline for a non-pregnant employee who engaged in the same conduct as a pregnant employee.
- The employer violating or misapplying its own policy when taking negative action against the pregnant employee, or failing to previously apply the policy until the employee became pregnant.
Other Legal Protections for Pregnant Employees
The pregnancy discrimination laws are not the only place pregnant employees can look for workplace protection. Employees with a high-risk pregnancy or other pregnancy or childbirth complications might be protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Ohio’s disability discrimination law. Those laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of a pregnancy-related disability, and might require an employer to grant the employee a leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation.
Another potential protection for pregnant employees is the Family and Medical Leave Act, or “FMLA.” The FMLA provides certain employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid, but job-protected leave within a given 12-month period for the birth of a child or to care for the newborn. A pregnant employee may be entitled to FMLA leave before the child is born, if her condition makes her unable to work. Once the baby is born, the mother is entitled to FMLA leave to care for the newborn, regardless of the health of the mother or baby.
Lastly, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, most employers must provide reasonable break time for breastfeeding employees in order to express milk during the first year after the baby is born. Employers must provide a private place for that purpose, which cannot be a bathroom. The break time need not be paid, and employers with less than 50 employees need not provide these breaks if they can show it would pose an undue burden. While this protection does not apply to employees in every type of job, it is an important workplace protection for many new working mothers.
If you work in Cleveland, Akron, Lake or Lorain Counties, or anywhere else in Northeast Ohio and believe you have been discriminated against based on your pregnancy, it is important to contact an attorney right away, as there may be time limits on your claim.
If your rights as a pregnant employee have been violated, we can help you get the equal treatment you deserve. We are here for you. Contact us or request a free consultation today.