Back in January in our San Antonio Law Blog, we discussed whether more laws need to be on the books here in Texas to protect pregnant women from discrimination at work and in hiring. Although it is illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of pregnancy, this is unfortunately somewhat common. Just this week, it was announced that a childcare provider in the Midwest, which has about 100 employees, agreed to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit after it reportedly forced a pregnant woman to quit.
According to the discrimination lawsuit, which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the childcare company forced a woman to quit by refusing to let her work when she was in her fourth month of pregnancy.
The company reportedly settled the EEOC's claim fairly quickly, by agreeing to pay $31,000 to the victim. It has also agreed to provided training to all of its employees about pregnancy discrimination and enact new policies in order to avoid discriminating against pregnant employees in the future. Additionally, any pregnancy discrimination complaints filed with the company within the next two years must be reported to the EEOC.
In this case, it is unclear what prompted this employer to refuse to allow this pregnant woman to work. In some cases, employers make assumptions about pregnant employees and make employment decisions for them based on stereotypes. For example, an employer might refuse to promote a pregnant woman because it might think she won't be able to handle the new job once she becomes a mother. In other cases, an employer might think it is dangerous for a pregnant woman to walk around serving tables at a restaurant, for example, so it will fire her. These things mentioned here are illegal, as it is not the employer's right to make assumptions and decisions about an employee's pregnancy.
In any shape or form, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under federal law. Those who have experienced discrimination on the basis of pregnancy may find that it is beneficial to talk with an employment law attorney.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Adventures in Learning to Pay $31,000 to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Case," Feb. 28, 2013