Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, workplaces are required to treat pregnant women fairly and offer reasonable accommodations on the job. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, learned this lesson through a lawsuit by an employee who miscarried after her accommodation requests were ignored. Though the Plaintiff’s loss was personally devastating, other women working for the MTA may now find themselves protected from the same type of workplace discrimination.
Pregnant employee alleges MTA refusal to provide reasonable accommodations
According to a 2020 lawsuit filed against the MTA, a 30-year-old pregnant woman finished her one-year probation period as an MTA employee. As a train conductor, her job required significant heavy lifting and standing for long periods. Her doctor’s note advised the MTA against having her stand and lift heavy items. The Plaintiff claimed her requests for an accommodation (not lifting or standing for long periods) were passed from one office to another. A hotline for pregnant transit workers went to voicemail without follow-up. When a co-worker suggested she contact the superintendent of the crew office, the superintendent advised her to see the MTA doctor. As she waited for the appointment day to arrive, the Plaintiff went into labor and ultimately had a miscarriage.
Pregnancy discrimination lawsuit prompts policy change
Once word of this Plaintiff’s pregnancy discrimination got out, other female MTA employees came forward with similar stories about how the agency failed to properly accommodate their pregnancies. Several of them joined the lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination through failure to provide reasonable accommodations.
Though their lawsuit is ongoing, MTA has taken a positive step forward by creating light-duty positions to accommodate the physical needs of pregnant workers. According to Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano, the move “is an important first step to finally provide our union sisters, regardless of title, the opportunity to continue to work in jobs that will not threaten their health or the health of their babies.”
Are you a victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?
The Noble Law understands the complex mix of emotions that comes with workplace discrimination of any kind. Pregnancy discrimination is not only a threat to your livelihood, but it can be outright dangerous to you or your unborn child. If you believe you have been targeted at work due to your pregnancy, please schedule a consultation with a member of our team to figure out whether you have a viable claim against your employer.
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