Pregnancy Discrimination


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



21 12, 2019

Six Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

By |2019-12-21T03:34:49+00:00December 21st, 2019|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Some of These Might Surprise You According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers are forbidden from discriminating against pregnant employees when it comes to any aspect of their jobs—including hiring and firing, pay, job duties, training, health insurance, and more. Even so, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the number of pregnancy discrimination claims increased 50% between 1997 and 2011.  And it’s likely this type of discrimination is under-reported. One thing many people don’t realize is that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn’t just protect pregnant women. It’s also intended to prevent discrimination based on medical conditions caused by pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), some pregnancy-related health conditions may qualify as disabilities. If you are afflicted with one of these, your employer may be required to offer reasonable accommodations for you under the ADA.  Here are some examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. 1. Refusing to hire you because you’re pregnant—or plan to become pregnant Have you ever had a prospective employer ask you about your childbearing plans during an interview? It may be against the law to ask that question. Employers are generally not allowed to make hiring decisions based [...]

12 03, 2019

Pregnancy Light Duty Rules: What You Need to Know

By |2019-05-06T19:27:59+00:00March 12th, 2019|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

You May Be Entitled to Job Accommodations Are you pregnant and employed? If so, hopefully you won’t be too shocked at the way your employer treats you after they hear the news. Pregnancy discrimination is a huge problem in American companies. A recent New York Times investigation uncovered numerous instances where pregnant women asked for light duty accommodation and were refused. “Light duty” generally refers to less physically taxing work, often given on a short-term basis to help workers with temporary injuries keep their jobs while they recover. Pregnancy isn’t an injury or disability, but pregnant workers may be entitled to light duty under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). If you’re pregnant, you may be entitled to light-duty accommodation—but the rules around this aren’t exactly straightforward. Here’s a breakdown. Does My Employer Have to Provide Light Duty? Technically, light duty isn’t just for pregnant women. It’s for any worker recovering from an injury, and it’s assumed that the person will eventually be able to return to their previous job. The PDA doesn’t require all employees to offer light-duty work to pregnant women. What it does require is that pregnant women be treated equally. If an employer offers light duty to [...]

20 09, 2018

Lactation Room Requirements FAQ: Does Your Employer Measure Up?

By |2018-10-14T22:25:22+00:00September 20th, 2018|Pregnancy Discrimination, Uncategorized|0 Comments

What nursing moms need to know when returning to work If you’re returning to work while breastfeeding, you’re probably somewhat stressed about how you’re going to manage expressing breastmilk during the workday. It’s a problem many women have faced—including my wife after the births of each of our four children. I’ve seen firsthand how knowing what to expect can help ease the transition back into the working world. One of the biggest questions you’re probably worried about: Where are you going to pump? Let’s take a look at what you need to know about lactation rooms before you return to work. What are the laws for breast pumping at work? Federal, state, and local laws may apply to nursing moms. Federal breastfeeding laws The Affordable Care Act (ACA), more often known as Obamacare, amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) to state that non-exempt employees must be given a private space other than a bathroom to express breastmilk during the workday. Generally, “non-exempt” refers to people who are qualified to receive overtime. There are two important exclusions that working moms should note: The law only applies to women who are employed by companies or agencies that are bound by the [...]

22 01, 2018

New Jersey Strengthens Protections for Nursing Mothers at Work

By |2018-01-22T12:39:05+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Returning to work as a breastfeeding mother Going back to work after a new baby can be stressful enough on its own. When you have to worry about expressing breastmilk during the workday as well, things can be doubly stressful. Let’s discuss your rights as a nursing mother, including a new law expanding protections for working nursing mothers in New Jersey. New State Law in New Jersey Protects Nursing Mothers from Workplace Discrimination On January 8, 2018, Governor Chris Christie signed a law prohibiting discrimination against women who breastfeed in the work place. Under the new law, women cannot be fired or discriminated against based on breastfeeding at work. The new law expands the civil rights protections provided by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to include breastfeeding mothers. The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for mothers to nurse or pump milk for their babies. Employers must allow breaks during the day for women and a private location for women to pump milk for their babies or breastfeed. The new law extends existing protections provided by the Affordable Care Act to include exempt (salaried) employees as well as all employers, including small businesses with less than 50 workers. [...]

6 10, 2017

Woman Says She Was Forced to Take Unpaid Leave During Pregnancy

By |2017-10-10T02:10:16+00:00October 6th, 2017|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Police officer claims she was unfairly denied light-duty work Many women fear telling their employers that they’re pregnant. They may worry that they’ll be treated differently, or even that they’ll be driven off the job. Case in point: Jennifer Panattoni, a senior patrol officer and 14-year veteran of a local police department. She’s currently suing her employer, claiming that she was unfairly forced to take leave without pay when she was five months pregnant. Let’s take a look at what happened to Panattoni and then discuss what all women should know about their rights on the job when they’re pregnant. The Novelty of a Female Employee Panattoni says that she was one of three female police officers in her town, and the first to become pregnant. As her pregnancy progressed, she claims that working regular patrols became difficult. Her bulletproof vest became tight, and the heaviness of her 25-pound duty belt was a strain on her abdomen. She asked if she could move some of the objects from her duty belt to her pockets and was told no. Panattoni says she brought in a doctor’s note asking for modified duty. She claims that injured employees were frequently allowed to work [...]

11 08, 2017

What Rights Do Nursing Mothers Have When They Return to Work?

By |2017-08-11T21:28:16+00:00August 11th, 2017|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

What federal law says about expressing breastmilk during the workday If you’re going back to work after having a baby, you may be wondering how you’re going to handle expressing breastmilk during the workday. Where will you do it? Will your employer give you a hard time about it? If so, what can you do? Knowing your rights in advance can help take a lot of stress out the situation. Let’s take a look at some common questions nursing moms have about returning to work. What does the law say? Some nursing mothers are granted protection for expressing breastmilk at work under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is often referred to as Obamacare. The law states that employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” What that means: women are entitled to unlimited nursing breaks, which may be taken whenever a woman needs to express breastmilk. The law also states that employers must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers [...]

20 04, 2017

Balancing Work and Breastfeeding: What New Mothers Should Know About Their Rights

By |2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00April 20th, 2017|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Federal law offers some protection for expressing breastmilk As a father of four small children, I have a lot of empathy for nursing mothers who plan to return to work. In fact, I’ve seen my wife tackle this challenge four times. Thankfully, her employer has always been supportive of her need to express breast milk during the work day. Unfortunately though, many female employees still face uphill battles when they return to work. Resistance from employers may make some new moms feel forced to abandon breastfeeding before they’re ready. Some women have even sued their employers, claiming that they suffered through painful infections as a result of not being able to maintain their pumping schedules. So what are nursing mother’s legal rights on the job? Let’s take a look. Legal Breaks for Some Women, But Not All There is legal protection for expressing breast milk on the job, however, that protection has some significant limitations. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide break time for some nursing mothers to express breast milk while at work. That’s right, only some employees – namely, non-exempt workers – are legally [...]

30 03, 2017

Can You Be Forced to Take Leave if You’re Pregnant?

By |2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00March 30th, 2017|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

What the law says about pregnant workers in safety-sensitive positions For some women, becoming pregnant puts their jobs into new perspective. Woman with physically demanding jobs, or those who work in safety-sensitive positions, may wonder how long they can safely perform their job duties. However, in some cases, those women don’t have to wonder too long, because their employers force them off the job or fire them. While it’s generally unlawful to terminate someone for becoming pregnant, these types of situations do not often play out as obvious discrimination. For example: a woman might announce her pregnancy and then find herself terminated two weeks later over a minor infraction an employer may insist that having a pregnant woman in a certain position is a liability and then fire the woman because she presents a supposed safety risk, or a supervisor may attempt to make working conditions so unpleasant that the woman eventually feels forced to quit. So what does the law say about situations like these? And what can you do if your employer subjects you to potentially unlawful treatment because of a pregnancy? Laws that cover pregnancy There are several federal laws that govern how pregnancy is handled on [...]

1 12, 2016

Police Officers Collect $135,000 After Being Forced Off Job During Pregnancies

By |2016-12-01T20:36:26+00:00December 1st, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Department wouldn’t let women work light duty, even though others could When police officer Lyndi Trischler got pregnant with her second child, she assumed she’d request light-duty and finish out her pregnancy in a desk job, just like she did with her first child. Unfortunately, that assumption was incorrect. It turns out that sometime after Trischler’s first pregnancy, the police department rewrote its policy on light-duty so that pregnant women were no longer eligible. Instead of working a desk job, Trischler was forced to take leave for the most of the second half of her pregnancy. She claims that much of that leave was unpaid. Trischler’s situation raises some important questions for pregnant employees who work in safety-sensitive jobs. Do employers have an obligation to offer light-duty jobs for pregnant workers? Is it reasonable to expect expectant mothers to just accept weeks or months of unpaid leave? Exceptions Made for Non-Pregnant Workers Trischler decided to fight back. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that her employer, the City of Florence, KY, discriminated against her. Approximately six months later, Officer Samantha Riley filed a similar complaint against the city. At the time, Trischler and Riley [...]

17 11, 2016

How Do I Sue My Employer? What Employees Need to Know About the Legal Process

By |2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00November 17th, 2016|Americans with Disabilities Act Claims, Family and Medical Leave Act Claims, Hostile Work Environment, Pregnancy Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages, Workplace Discrimination, Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

What you need to do and when Filing a lawsuit against your employer can be a daunting process, especially if you’ve never had to navigate the legal system before. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably going to spend some time doing Internet research before you pick up the phone to call an attorney. While being informed is a great impulse, it’s also important to realize that the sooner you speak to an attorney, the more likely your complaint is going to come out to a successful conclusion. You may thinking, “Well, sure … you’re attorneys so of course you’re going to say that.” But the truth of the matter is that if you’re even considering filing a lawsuit against your employer, everything you say and do from that moment on can potentially be included in the suit. Creating a consistent and legally sound narrative from the beginning can be a significant advantage when facing off against an employer – especially if that employer has deep pockets. Let’s talk about what steps you need to take if you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful behavior or practices.  While it’s important to acknowledge that every situation is unique, [...]