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Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnant women, including women with pregnancy-related medical conditions, have historically faced significant discrimination in the workplace. In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) to try to eliminate pregnancy-based discrimination. Texas state laws also prohibit discrimination based on gender, which includes pregnancy discrimination. Although these federal and state laws have been around for years, unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is still a reality for many workers. A knowledgeable Houston employment lawyer will be able to discuss your rights and legal options if you are faced with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Have you been discriminated against after informing your employer that you are pregnant? Have you noticed that after you disclosed you were pregnant, you faced increased and unwarranted disciplinary action (such as write ups or demotion)? Were you terminated soon after you informed your employer you are pregnant? Did you request an accommodation due to a pregnancy related medical issue and your employer denied it or has ignored your requests?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, or you are pregnant or recently gave birth to a child and are experiencing harassment or discrimination at work, your employer may be in violation of the law and you must assert your legal rights to make sure your job, income and future career is protected. Leeds Law Firm has skilled pregnancy discrimination lawyers to help you determine your rights and consider your options.

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, her employer must provide reasonable accommodations. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave in the same way the employer would for an employee with a disability.

What Types of Employment Actions are Prohibited and Constitute Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.

  • Current pregnancy. An employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote, or take any other adverse or negative action(s) against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the decision. For example, an employer may not terminate employment of a woman who discloses that she is pregnant because the employer believes that because of the pregnancy she will no longer be able to perform her job. **This is true even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee's best interest**
  • Past Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate against an employee or applicant based on a past pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition or childbirth. For example, an employer may not terminate a woman’s employment because of pregnancy during or at the end of her maternity leave.
  • Potential Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate based on an employee's intention or potential to become pregnant. For example, an employer may not exclude a woman from a job out of concern that she (or the baby) would be harmed.
  • Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth. An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy. For example, since lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of her breastfeeding schedule. Another example would be discrimination against an employee who required reasonable medical leave to treat a pregnancy related condition such as preeclampsia.

Some examples of actions that can be taken by employer that would violate the state and federal laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination are:

  1. Firing a pregnant employee (after disclosing the pregnancy)
  2. Harassing an employee for being pregnant (making derogatory comments about the pregnancy, offensive jokes and/or insults, physical assaults and threats to the point the pregnant employee feels she is in a hostile work environment).
  3. Refusing to hire someone because they are pregnant
  4. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee
  5. Firing or discriminating against an employee for pumping breast milk in the workplace
  6. Forcing an employee to take time off because she is pregnant
  7. Retaliating against and an employee for reporting pregnancy discrimination
  8. Demoting an employee because she is pregnant
What to do if You Believe You Have Been a Victim of Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you feel you've been discriminated against because of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition, you should address your concerns right away by speaking with a knowledgeable employment attorney. Leeds Law Firm can help you analyze the situation, discuss and explains your rights, and take action on your behalf quickly and efficiently to make sure that you are protected. If you are still employed but you fear the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation will continue, it is important you contact us as soon as possible so that we can take action before any more adverse action occurs. If you have disclosed your pregnancy and already have been terminated from your employment, you may be entitled to lost income and other damages. If you are in the Houston area and are in need of a pregnancy discrimination attorney, contact us today to discuss your rights and potential legal options.

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