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Both state and federal law protect pregnant employees from being discriminated against at work, so if you have been the victim of adverse action by an employer because of your pregnancy, you should retain an experienced workplace discrimination attorney who can explain your legal options.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
The PDA is a federal law that prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against an employee based on pregnancy or childbirth. This means that employers are barred from taking certain employment-related actions, such as:
- Refusing to hire a woman because she has a pregnancy-related condition when she is still capable of performing major job functions;
- Denying a pregnant woman equal pay, benefits, or opportunities for advancement;
- Requiring a pregnant employee to take leave until the birth of her child;
- Refusing to hire a pregnant applicant because of the perceived prejudices of customers and clients;
- Refusing to hold a job open for an absence related to an employee’s pregnancy if other positions are reserved for the same amount of time for employees who are on disability leave; or
- Requiring those with pregnancy-related medical conditions to go through additional clearance procedures in order to receive insurance coverage.
Pregnant employees are also granted the same rights to accommodation as those who are temporarily disabled, which means that employers are required to make certain changes, including:
- Assigning the employee to lighter duties;
- Modifying some of the employee’s tasks;
- Providing the employee with alternative assignments;
- Providing the employee with disability leave; and
- Allowing the employee to take leave without pay.
Another federal law, known as The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees certain employees at least three months of unpaid leave to care for a new child. To find out if you qualify for FMLA leave, contact a member of our legal team today.
Fortunately, employees who work for smaller companies also receive some protections from discrimination under state law, which applies to employers with four or more employees. Under this law, employers are required to treat pregnant employees the same as all other employees for work-related purposes, including the receipt of fringe benefits.
Filing a Discrimination Claim
Employees who have been discriminated against based on pregnancy can file a claim under federal law by sending a report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate the claim and if necessary, attempt to resolve the issues through mediation or settlement. Otherwise, the employee will need to request a right to sue letter, which gives him or her 90 days to file a lawsuit in court. An employee who has been discriminated against also has the option of filing a claim with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) or directly in state court.
Successful plaintiffs may be able to collect the following damages:
- Back pay;
- Lost benefits;
- Out-of-pocket losses;
- Front pay or reinstatement;
- Court costs;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages.
Call Today to Speak With an Experienced Workplace Discrimination Attorney
Please contact Marshall & Forman, LLC by calling (614) 463-9790 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable workplace discrimination attorney who can evaluate your case.