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Pregnancy discrimination and the laws that protect pregnant women

Finding out you are pregnant is typically an exciting and joyous time for individuals in New York and elsewhere. Sharing this news with close family members is a thrilling event; however, sharing the news with an employer and co-workers could result in mixed emotions.

While employees have rights and protections, announcing that you are pregnant could result in employers and fellow employees treating you differently. In some cases, the news could cause workplace discrimination. And because pregnant employees are protected from mistreatment and harassment since it is gender discrimination, employees have options to take action.

In addition to civil rights that protect all women from discrimination, the Family and Medical Leave Act also protects pregnant women. Women are able to use the rights afforded by the Act to obtain up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new baby. Nonetheless, some female employees experience difficulties when they announce that they will take a leave or even utilize maternity leave afforded by company policy.

When it comes to pregnancy discrimination actions, the timing of termination is often key. If an employer fires a pregnant employee after announcing that they are pregnant or requesting a FMLA leave, an employer better have a well-documented reason for termination. If there is not an established reason, this could be grounds for a wrongful termination suit.

Even more so, the EEOC provides guidance for pregnancy accommodation laws and what is regarded as pregnancy discrimination. Today, if a pregnant employee requests accommodation for their pregnancy, an employer has the burden to prove that it would be an undue burden. If this is not proven and reasonable accommodations are not provided, the expecting employee could have an action.

If you believe that you are a victim of workplace discrimination because you are pregnant or a new mom, you might have legal recourses available. A legal action could help an employee recover compensation for the losses and damages arising from the matter.

Source:, "Why Should Employers Take Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation Seriously? Here Are More Than 500,000 Reasons Why," Jeff Nowak, Aug. 26, 2016

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