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



19 08, 2016

Pregnant Worker Had to Get Boss’s Approval to Use Restroom

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:59+00:00 August 19th, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Employee awarded $550K for pregnancy discrimination Even though women have been in the workforce for decades, there are still some employers who view worker pregnancy as a major business disruption. Unfortunately, these situations can lead to major stress for pregnant employees who suddenly find themselves under the microscope at work. Some women may even fear that they may lose their jobs and their health benefits when they need them most. However, it’s important to know that there are legal remedies for women who are being subjected to unfair treatment because of pregnancy. Let’s take a look at a recent pregnancy discrimination case and then talk about what it means to expectant moms in the workforce. Limit on Bathroom Breaks Doris Garcia Hernandez had a history of positive employment reviews at the Chipotle restaurant where she worked. Her supervisor even told her that she had the potential to “move up” in the store at some point. However, Hernandez says all of that changed after she told her boss she was pregnant. She states that her supervisor began restricting her access to water so she wouldn’t require so many restroom breaks. She was told to notify all coworkers when she needed to [...]

23 06, 2016

Boss Told Female Bartender That Her Pregnant Belly Would Be Bad for Business

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:59+00:00 June 23rd, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Women secretly recorded her boss during termination meeting Despite laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), every year thousands of women claim that they were fired or forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. In 2015 alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 3,500 complaints of pregnancy discrimination. However, that number only reflects the women who decided to step up and make a formal complaint. It’s likely that many more women who are subjected to unlawful behavior don’t pursue any legal remedies. And what happens then? The victim is left to pick up the pieces on her own, and the employer gets the message that it’s OK to mistreat women. Let’s take a look at a recent case in which an employee was fired because of her pregnancy, and then talk about pregnant women’s rights under the law. Customers Wouldn’t Like It Michelle Viscusi, a bartender at the Moonshine Whisky Bar and Grill, was thrilled when she found out that she was pregnant. However, she was also concerned about what would happen when she told her managers the news. She delayed speaking with them, but shared her secret with a few coworkers. Unfortunately, someone [...]

19 05, 2016

You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! Boss Terminates 3 Expectant Mothers Within 6 Months

By | 2016-05-19T19:59:27+00:00 May 19th, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Women awarded over $6.2 million for discrimination Believe it or not, pregnancy discrimination remains a substantial problem for working women. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that it received over 3,500 complaints of pregnancy discrimination in 2015. While some pregnancy discrimination may be subtle – a woman is passed over for a promotion or loses perks, for example – some unlawful discrimination is much more obvious. Let’s take a look at what happened when one employer decided that he could no longer tolerate expectant mothers on his staff. Triple-play in the Nursery Marlena Santana, Yasminda Davis and Melissa Rodriguez worked as administrative staffers at GEB Medical Management – that is, they worked there until they got pregnant. After that, the three expectant mothers were fired within a six-month period. Their boss, Bruce Paswall, allegedly made it known that he didn’t want to deal with pregnant workers or new mothers. He recounted a story in which an employee asked for a raise after returning from maternity leave and then quit without notice. Paswall didn’t want a repeat incident. In fact, when he interviewed new job candidates, he inquired about their plans to have children and encouraged them not to, [...]

28 04, 2016

Do You Have a Legal Right to Express Breastmilk at Work? What Nursing Mothers Need to Know

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:59+00:00 April 28th, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Hourly and salaried employees may have different legal protections You’ve just started back to work after having a baby. The morning was a mad dash to pack up everything your infant needs and then drop him or her off at daycare. Now you’re sitting at your desk for the first time in months and there’s a lot to catch up on. On top of all of that, you’re sleep deprived. To complicate matters further, you’re still breastfeeding your child. That means that you’ll need to express breastmilk while you’re at work. What happens now? Where do you go? What if your boss gives you a hard time? While, obviously, this isn’t a scenario I have experienced myself, I’ve seen these struggles firsthand. My wife recently started back to work after having our fourth child (yes, you heard that right – four) and our baby is still nursing. Just as she did with our first three children, my wife is taking time during the workday to express breastmilk. Luckily, her employer has been very supportive about it. However, not everyone is that lucky. I’ve personally handled many cases regarding pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions and I can tell you that some women [...]

17 02, 2016

Company Pays Out $45K After Forcing Pregnant Woman Off the Job

By | 2016-02-17T20:31:31+00:00 February 17th, 2016|Pregnancy Discrimination, Workplace Discrimination|0 Comments

Staffer told she had to prove she was capable of working It’s unfortunate that, in 2016, becoming pregnant can still be enough to land some women in the unemployment line. However, it happens all the time. Last year we brought you a story of a woman who was forced off the job after her boss heard a rumor that she was pregnant. After many months of legal wrangling, it seems that the company recently decided to cut its losses and settle the suit. Shipley Do-Nuts will pay Brooke Foley $45,000, rather than have to face going to court to defend its decision to terminate a pregnant woman. Because Foley fought back, you can bet that her former employer will think twice before it fires another pregnant staffer. On the flip side, many women don’t fight back. What happens then? The consequences may have a wider impact than she realizes. That is, an employer who gets away with a potentially unlawful act once is likely to try it again. Your Rights Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act That’s why it’s important for women to be aware of their rights under the law. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) applies to companies with 15 [...]

23 01, 2015

Do Pregnant Women Deserve Special Treatment on the Job?

By | 2017-07-29T08:42:03+00:00 January 23rd, 2015|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

A woman’s normal job duties include lifting heavy objects. If that woman becomes pregnant, is her employer legally obligated to modify her job until she’s back to full physical capabilities?