While it is fairly well-known that an employer cannot discriminate against a woman because she is pregnant, employers often fail to recognize the numerous ways their conduct (including inaction) may constitute unlawful pregnancy discrimination under federal, state, or local law.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against a woman with respect to the terms and conditions of her employment because of her pregnancy status. Additionally, an employer is required to treat requests by a woman for a pregnancy-related accommodation in the same fashion as it would treat an accommodation request by any non-pregnant individual similarly affected in his or her ability or inability to work. For example, an employer:
- Cannot without good cause deny a pregnant employee’s request to take extra bathroom breaks during the day while allowing a non-pregnant employee to do so; or
- Cannot without good cause accommodate a light duty work restriction (such as, for instance, no lifting or excessive standing) for an employee injured on the job while refusing to accommodate the same restriction for a pregnant employee.
Moreover, in Philadelphia, employers are obligated to provide “reasonable accommodations in the workplace related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” Accommodations specifically identified in the PFPO include restroom breaks, periodic rest periods for employees whose jobs involve prolonged periods of standing, and assistance with manual labor. Perhaps most importantly, the PFPO requires an employer to provide “leave of a period of disability arising from childbirth” so long as doing so does not cause the employer undue hardship.
Several other statutes may also affect the rights of a pregnant employee. For example, certain pregnant employees may qualify for up to twelve (12) weeks of maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and up to twenty-four (24) weeks of protected leave under the New Jersey Family Leave Act under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain serious health impairments resulting from pregnancy (such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) may qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing the employee with the additional protections available under that statute.
If you believe that an employer has made unfavorable decisions concerning your employment because of your pregnancy status, or else failed to provide you with a reasonable accommodation to care for a pregnancy-related medical condition, you should contact our firm to discuss whether you may have been subject to unlawful pregnancy discrimination.
You can contact the Murphy Law Group today by calling 267-273-1054, by filling out our online form, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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