Every year, thousands of allegations of pregnancy discrimination are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has led to the EEOC announcing that this particular issue has become a priority for them. The fact is that many women are being denied promotions or benefits or are even fired because they are pregnant. In fact, it’s not unusual for a woman not to be hired if she is pregnant. While you can file a lawsuit against a company for being discriminated against based on your pregnancy, it’s one thing to know that’s the reason and an entirely different thing to prove it.
Understanding Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is a type of gender-based discrimination where an employer acts differently with an applicant or employee due to her being pregnant or based on any related issues. For example, an employer who won’t allow a woman to work with certain chemicals because she is in her childbearing years and the chemicals could cause the fetus harm is considered illegal sex discrimination.
Legally speaking, an employer isn’t allowed to fire or refuse to promote, demote, or assign tasks and responsibilities to a woman because she is pregnant. Note that you don’t have any special rights because you are pregnant. It’s simply a matter of the law stating that you shouldn’t be treated differently to any other employee.
What You need to Prove in a Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit
If you want to win your pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, you are going to have to prove that you were treated differently to other employees and that the different treatment was motivated by your pregnancy. So, if your employer fired you, you have to prove that it was most likely because of your pregnancy and unlikely to have been caused by anything else.
In some cases, a plaintiff is lucky in that they have direct evidence of the discrimination in question, meaning that the employer admitted to taking action because of the pregnancy. So, if your employer denied you a promotion, stating that it was because he felt you would not be able to travel after having the baby, even though you are willing to travel, that would be clear evidence of discrimination.
Such evidence isn’t as difficult to come by because while employers are very careful about making racist remarks, they aren’t quite as careful at censoring themselves if pregnancy plays a role in their decision-making process.
If your employer didn’t state outright that your pregnancy played a role, then you will have to supply circumstantial evidence, which can be proof that the employer didn’t employ the normal practices and policies of the company, or changed their behavior in some way, or made a decision that didn’t make sense from a business standpoint. Also, providing statistical evidence of how other pregnant employees have been treated could help your case.
For example, if you were fired a few weeks before your due date, circumstantial evidence to support your case could include:
- The employer stating you were fired for performance problems, when other employees with performance issues were only issued written warnings;
- All other pregnant employees were fired shortly before going on parental leave;
- Being fired the day before going on parental leave.
Hiring Legal Help
Such situations could provide sufficient circumstantial proof that you were fired because of your pregnancy. Like with any discrimination case, providing sufficient evidence can be complicated, which is why you should consult an experienced lawyer immediately. If you haven’t yet lost your job, your attorney could send a letter that would make your employer think twice about firing you. If you’ve already lost your job, then you need a lawyer to look at your case and determine whether or not it’s worth pursuing legal action.
The Next Steps You Take and How You Take them are Vital
At Makarem & Associates, we have some of the best employment attorneys who can effectively represent your pregnancy discrimination case. We have found that taking some form of action immediately is essential, especially since much of the evidence is circumstantial. So, if you feel that you are being discriminated against because of your pregnancy, contact us by phone at 310.312.0299 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can go over your particular situation and advise you on the best course of action that is available to you.