Maternity Leave and Pregnancy Discrimination
The last thing that a pregnant employee wants to worry about is whether she can count on her future with her company. Yet, companies all too often seek to terminate and replace pregnant workers. This practice is morally reprehensible and dangerous to society as a whole.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Congress has recognized this evil and taken steps to alleviate it. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes clear that pregnancy discrimination is an illicit form of sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Women whose pregnancies played a role in their terminations, demotions, or failures to advance have claims for illegal workplace discrimination.
Moreover, the Americans with Disabilities Act offers protections for women whose pregnancies have caused medical complications or disorders. For example, it would likely be illegal under the ADA for a covered employer to terminate a woman because of a medical condition that she developed during her pregnancy.
The PDA and ADA also prevent employers from treating pregnant employees worse than other workers. For example, an employer cannot provide reasonable accommodations to most workers, but deny them to pregnant employees. If an employer routinely allows workers to go on light duty for workers compensation injuries, then it should permit pregnant employees to enjoy the same flexibility.
Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act also offers women vital protections related to pregnancy leaves of absences. The FMLA guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying employees, and makes it illegal for employers to interfere with such leave or to retaliate against employees for requesting leave.
Pregnancy discrimination strikes at the worst possible time. Expecting families have enough on their plates already. If you believe you are the victim of pregnancy discrimination, you should reach out for a consultation today.
Do I Have a Claim?
Employees Must File Claims Within 180 Days
Title VII, the PDA, and the ADA all require employees to bring these claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory act.
Unfortunately, the EEOC is far more likely to harm your case than to help your cause. Therefore, we strongly recommend you reach out for a consult before going to the EEOC if you believe you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. No matter what, though, you must comply with the 180-day deadline. Therefore, you should file with the EEOC immediately if it has been five months since the adverse employment action occurred.
North Carolina does not clearly offer any protection from pregnancy discrimination. Therefore, special care should be taken to ensure compliance with the federal time limits on these claims.
South Carolina’s Human Affairs Lawprovides protection more similar to the federal law and provides employees a longer period of time to file their discrimination claim (up to 300 days).
Reach out for a consultation today.