Pregnancy Discrimination Claims


I think my employer is discriminating against me because I am pregnant.



It happened to me: A Real Life Story



I think I am being treated differently because of my pregnancy? How do I prove it?


To show that you were treated differently, you must be able to show how your employer deviated from a standard company policy. For example, if sick leave or disability leave was offered to your co-worker who has a broken leg, your employer must treat your pregnancy in the same manner.


I just found out that I'm pregnant, should I tell my employer?


Yes, as soon as you feel comfortable disclosing this information. Legally, you must give your employer at least 30 days notice of your intention to take maternity leave. However, practically speaking, the more notice you give your employer, the easier it will be for your employer to accommodate your needs. Additionally, if your pregnancy is affecting your ability to do your job, your employer needs to be informed about it.


Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?


No. An employer cannot fire you because you become pregnant as long as you can perform the essential functions of the job. Even if the company believes that there are potential risks that could prevent you from bearing children, such as lead exposure, as long as the company fully informs you of the risk, it is ultimately your decision to continue working.


Can I ask my employer to make accommodations for me on account of my pregnancy?


Yes. Keep in mind that your doctor is the only one who knows what is or is not safe for you to do at work. If your employer requests it, you should be prepared to provide them with a note from your doctor describing how your workload should be adjusted to accommodate for your current condition.


For what amount of time can I take leave because of pregnancy?


Each employee makes an arrangement with her employer as to the length of time and potential compensation. However, it is important to note that if you have been working for an employer for at least a year (either full-time or at least 1250 hours), and your company has more than 50 employees, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. If you work for a smaller company (between 21 and 50 employees), you are still covered under Minnesota's Parenting Leave Act (MPLA). However, the MPLA only allows for a six-week maternity leave.


What happens to my job while I am on pregnancy leave?


When you return from leave, you must be given back your original job, or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.


Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?


Unfortunately, yes. If your employer has either fewer than 21 employees or you have been employed by the company for less than a year, that company has no legal obligation to provide pregnancy leave. However, if the company has a sick or disability leave policy that uses different criteria than the federal law, it must make the same accommodations for pregnancy as offered to other employees in a similar condition.


I've been missing a lot of work due to prenatal check-ups or pregnancy-related complications; can my employer fire me for this?


If you miss work but fail to talk a doctor prior to doing so, it may be viewed by your employer as absenteeism, and can hurt your performance reviews and give an employer potential grounds for firing you.


Is my employer required to pay me while I am on pregnancy leave?


No. However, you are entitled to the same treatment as your co-workers that take sick or disability leave. As a result, if these co-workers are being paid during their respective leaves, you can expect to be paid as well.


I'm pregnant but not showing yet and I have an upcoming interview, do I need to disclose the fact that I'm pregnant?


No. You don't have to disclose your pregnancy during the interview. The only time physical condition comes into play is if you are unable to perform the scope of the job. A warehouse worker, for example, who is required to lift 50-pound boxes, would be asked in the interview whether he/she has physical limitations keeping them from performing the requirements of the position.


Can an employer refuse to hire me because I may become pregnant?


No. An employer cannot refuse to hire you because you are or may become pregnant as long as you can perform the essential functions of the job. You cannot be treated differently in terms of benefits, choice of job assignments or other conditions of employment.


Can my employer prevent me from working while I'm pregnant or require me to take a certain amount of leave?


You cannot be required to take a leave of absence during your pregnancy. You must be permitted to work as long as you are able to do your job.


Can my employer keep me from working in certain areas or doing certain tasks because of health and safety concerns?


Yes, but only if there are compelling medical reasons. Even if your employer has good intentions, if you did not request a transfer or are bothered by the suggested changes, this could be a potential violation. However, it would be legitimate for your employer to ask you for your doctor's opinion on topics such as your ability to stand for long periods or engage in heavy lifting. If your doctor suggests restrictions, your employer may act accordingly.


Can my employer move me to another position while I am pregnant so as not to offend clients or customers?


No. If customers or clients are for some reason uncomfortable dealing with an employee who is pregnant, that's irrelevant -- just as it would be if customers or clients were uncomfortable with an employee's race or sexual orientation. The preference of customers and other employees is never a legal basis for discrimination.


Does my employer's health insurance have to cover the medical costs of my pregnancy?


If your employer offers health insurance, it must cover expenses for pregnancy on the same basis as costs for other conditions. As long as coverage is consistent across multiple health conditions, there is likely no case for discrimination. If your company offers generous health benefits, you have the right to expect a high level of coverage for pregnancy costs. Similarly, if the coverage is generally inadequate, you can expect the same limited coverage.


I just returned from maternity leave and need to take extra breaks in order to pump milk, but my supervisor won't make any accommodations. Can I file a claim?


When you return to your job, if you are breastfeeding, your employer must provide a reasonable unpaid break time if you need to express breast milk for your infant child. Your employer must make an effort to provide a room or other location near your work area, other than a toilet stall, where you can do this in privacy.


Can my employer treat me differently because I am unmarried and pregnant?


No. Pregnancy related benefits cannot be limited to married employees.


I was pregnant, but had a miscarriage or an abortion, and need time off to recover. Am I covered by the law?


Recovery time must be dealt with in the same way that other health conditions are addressed by your company.


My employer's medical plan covers most health conditions, but excludes abortion and contraceptive devices and medication. Is this legal?


Health insurance for expenses arising from abortion is not required, except where the life of the mother is endangered.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?


Your employer will likely provide a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the action taken against you. To counter its response, you will need to show that the reason your employer has offered is merely pretextual, meaning that the employer's explanation of its behavior is dishonest. You must then reassert that discrimination was actually the motivating factor for the adverse employment decision.




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