Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer for Ohio Employees

No woman should have to worry that getting pregnant will get her fired. Even today though, working mothers sometimes face stereotyped assumptions about their abilities and commitment to their jobs. If you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination at work, talk to an experienced Ohio pregnancy discrimination lawyer about your rights.

Pregnant employee at work

In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to explicitly prohibit workplace pregnancy discrimination. The Ohio Revised Code has a similar provision in Chapter 4112. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer takes some negative employment action against a female employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy. 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.

What are common examples of pregnancy discrimination?

Discrimination takes many forms. That said, there are several common types of pregnancy discrimination.

The first and most obvious is firing an employee who gets pregnant or refusing to hire an employee because she is pregnant. Refusing to hire an employee because the employer thinks she might get pregnant is unlawful as well.

Discrimination is often more subtle though. Employers might engage in or tolerate harassment of a pregnant employee. That might involve jokes, 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.

Another example of pregnancy discrimination involves denial of promotion or other opportunities for advancement given to non-pregnant employees. It is not unheard of for employers to deny employees promotions because they are pregnant or might become pregnant, based on the employer’s assumption that they are less committed to their careers or will not come back after maternity leave. Employers, however, may not make employment decisions based on those stereotyped assumptions about pregnant employees.

At Bolek Besser Glesius, we have decades of collective experience helping women fight employment discrimination. Our Cleveland pregnancy discrimination attorneys are devoted to protecting working mothers and their families. We may be able to help you too.

Can I get job accommodations if I am pregnant?

Pregnant employees often need workplace accommodations because of pregnancy. But until Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in late 2022, most pregnant employees were entitled to job accommodations only if their employers granted similar accommodations to non-pregnant employees. As a result, many pregnant workers were denied accommodations they needed and lost their jobs.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act changed that. The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to give employees reasonable accommodations needed due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless doing saw would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Although there are many different types of workplace accommodations, there are several common ones that pregnant workers may need. For example, a pregnant employee might need light duty or more frequent breaks. Or she might need something as simple as a chair to sit on at her workstation. In some cases, temporary medical leave or remote work might be a reasonable pregnancy accommodation. Importantly, the PWFA prohibits employers from forcing an employee to take maternity leave if there is another reasonable accommodation available that would allow her to do her job.

Whether an employer is required to grant an accommodation depends on the particular facts of the situation. Ohio employees with questions about their right to a pregnancy accommodation should talk to a pregnancy discrimination lawyer to better understand their rights.

FMLA maternity leave protection for pregnant employees

pregnant employee needing medical leaveThe 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 (like gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension) 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. In addition to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, these disability discrimination laws might also require an employer to grant an 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 12 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 maternity 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.

Helping pregnant women fight unfair treatment at work

There are some telltale signs of pregnancy discrimination that Ohio employees should be watchful for. Discrimination based on pregnancy might arise in situations where:

  • An employer’s policy or statement suggests that the employer is making its decision based on 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.

Does my boss have to let me take a break to nurse or pump?

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 unless the employer has the mother performing work during the break. And employers with fewer than 50 employees need not provide these breaks if they can show it would pose an undue burden.

If you work in Ohio and believe you have been discriminated against based on your pregnancy, contact a pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away. There may be time limits on your claim. If you need help, contact us for a free consultation today.