Major Settlement In Pregnancy Discrimination Action
One former employee at a California dietary supplement firm will receive $50,000 because the company fired her after she said she was pregnant.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a worker informed supervisors at Tarr & Zenith that she was pregnant. A few days later, her bosses terminated her. The company fought the action until the EEOC finally filed suit in federal district court.
“Too often employers wrongly perceive pregnancy and motherhood as incompatible with work, which places women at a great disadvantage,” remarked Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC in SoCal.
Why is Pregnancy Discrimination So Common in Columbus?
Despite the presence of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and other federal laws, the number of claims has remained relatively constant since 2010. Not surprisingly, about a fourth of these claims originate in the healthcare/social services field, because a vast majority of these workers are women.
The unemployment rate has declined sharply over the past several years, so there is more competition for fewer available workers. This situation will probably continue for women. Whereas automation may replace many unskilled jobs by 2025, the same does not hold true for professional and paraprofessional jobs. So, employers will probably continue to offer extremely generous benefits packages to attract and retain workers.
The problem is that some bosses do not want to follow through on their promises to workers. A company may offer extended paid leave for pregnant workers, but the company will do anything possible to get out of paying for that leave.
Paternalistic Pregnancy Discrimination in Ohio
Many companies justify discrimination against pregnant women by saying that they are trying to look out for women. Healthcare is another good example. Certain chemicals and medical conditions are dangerous to pregnant women. So, a company might assign a pregnant woman to another position that it deems safer.
One problem with this approach is that it takes the decision out of the woman’s hands. If there is a danger, the woman should decide what is best for her family.
Moreover, paternalistic pregnancy discrimination is really just a smokescreen. Many companies simply want to pay their workers as little as possible in terms of compensation and benefits. They will try almost anything to fulfill that goal. Additionally, some companies are simply afraid that the pregnant woman may get ill or injured and file a lawsuit.
Elements of an Ohio Pregnancy Discrimination Claim
In 1978, Congress specifically amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include pregnancy. Today, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is the leading anti discrimination law in this area. Some employers make decisions based at least in part on pregnancy or future pregnancy. Others deny women even simple accommodations. There are two types of evidence in a pregnancy discrimination claim:
- Direct Evidence: Misogyny runs deep. Comments like “We think that X position is a little too hazardous for someone in your condition” are not uncommon. Furthermore, in the discovery process, an attorney can unearth notes and emails that say essentially the same thing.
- Circumstantial Evidence: If an employer fires a qualified pregnant worker because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and hires a nonpregnant worker, that is circumstantial evidence of discrimination. Obviously, the more evidence the plaintiff has on this point, the more difficult it is for the employer to defend the actions.
There are some technical matters as well. For example, the PDA usually only applies to companies with fifteen or more employees. That does not include independent contractors.
Connect with Tenacious Attorneys
Pregnancy discrimination is still all too common in Ohio. For a free consultation with an experienced employment discrimination attorney in Columbus, contact Marshall & Forman LLC. After hours appointments are available.