Pregnancy Discrimination Regarding Maternity Leave

Although presenting many challenges and worries, pregnancy can be a time of unmatched excitement for the future as a woman prepares to bring a new life into the world. Unfortunately, not all employers share in that feeling of hope and instead use the condition against employees. A series of local, state, and federal laws provide protections for women facing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace; if you believe you have been treated unfairly because of pregnancy, it is a good idea to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer.

What is Pregnancy Disability Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is unequal treatment by an employer due to an employee’s current pregnancy, or even because of a pregnancy loss. When an employer makes a decision based on an employee’s pregnancy status rather than her qualifications, it may violate the law.

If you are pregnant or have recently been pregnant and an employer does any of the following, they may be engaging in illegal discrimination:

  • Ask you about pregnancy in an interview
  • Harass you because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition
  • Fire or demote you because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition
  • Reduce your hours because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition
  • Treat you differently from other temporarily disabled employees, particularly in a way that causes you a significant burden
  • Deny you the same job or a similar one after a return from a pregnancy-related leave

In other words, if you experience work-related treatment that is different and suspect that it is based on your recent or current pregnancy, it is a good idea to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer.

Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) both protect pregnant women. However, the protections under each are not identical.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The PDA adds pregnancy as a protected class under the Civil Rights Act. It applies to all employers with 15 or more workers and requires employers to treat employees fairly. Under the PDA, pregnancy-related conditions like morning sickness, complications leading to bed rest, and childbirth itself may be considered temporary disabilities and entitle pregnant workers to the same types of accommodations that other temporarily disabled employees would be afforded.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers with more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius are subject to the FMLA. The FMLA provides that employees must permit expectant parents (of any gender) to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The FMLA protects that employee’s job and medical coverage until their return.

State Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

State pregnancy discrimination laws in North Carolina are as follows:

North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is unlawful to discharge an employee because of her pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition.  A North Carolina pregnancy discrimination lawyer can determine which laws apply given your employment circumstances.

What To Do If You Experience Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is not always obvious – many employers make up other reasons, like poor performance, to fire or otherwise mistreat a pregnant woman. If you suspect that adverse actions at work are due to your pregnancy, it is a good idea to speak with a skilled employment attorney.

If you have a viable case, the way you proceed can depend on the type of claim you file. For example, a federal complaint will first require you to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Knowing the potential legal paths that are open to you is just the first step. Following the required procedure for your claim is the next. For most people, litigation is not an everyday experience, but for employment lawyers, we manage these complex issues every day and can help you through your case.

Speak with an Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today

The effects of pregnancy discrimination can ripple through a woman’s career for years to come, leading to missed advancement opportunities, reduced pay, and even an impaired professional reputation.

If you suspect you have lost your job or been treated unfairly due to a pregnancy-related condition, there may be legal remedies available. Speak with an employment lawyer at The Noble Law today to find out more about your rights. Consultations are free and confidential. We listen. We hear you. We understand.

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