Pregnancy Discrimination Claims


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


What is pregnancy discrimination and does Texas law cover it?


The TCHRA does cover pregnancy discrimination. Since pregnancy is treated as a temporary disability by the law, pregnancy discrimination is when your employment status or benefits are treated differently and unequally from co-workers with similar disabilities.


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


If you face termination because of your pregnancy, you should be able to prove that: (1) you are a member of the protected class; (2) you were qualified for the job from which you were discharged; (3) that you were discharged; and (4) that the employer filled the position in question with a non-pregnant person (i.e. not a member of the protected class).


In order to make a claim based on pregnancy or sex related medical conditions you must also meet the same elements of general sex discrimination which are that the employer: (1) fails or refuses to hire an individual, discharges an individual, or discriminates in any other manner against an individual in connection with compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment; or (2) limits, segregates, or classifies an employee or applicant for employment in a manner that would deprive or tend to deprive an individual of any employment opportunity or adversely affect in any other manner the status of an employee.


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


Although it is not necessary to inform your employer of your pregnancy status until it becomes an issue for you, you may want to. The earlier you tell your employer the more they will be able to do to accommodate you. Keep records of your conversations with your employer regarding this. You cannot be fired for being pregnant.


Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?


No. You cannot be terminated solely because you are or may become pregnant.


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


Yes. If other non-pregnant employees are given handicap accommodations, you are entitled to the same fair treatment.


How do I prove that I need a special accommodation?


It may be helpful to have a doctor’s note detailing your requirements. You may also want to ask if your company has a process for non-pregnant employees who are given handicap accommodations. Since your pregnancy is treated like a disability, you may be able to use those channels to receive the accommodations you need.


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


This is not yet regulated by Texas law. Ask your employer about their standard policies. The federal Family Medical Leave Act allows up to 12 weeks unpaid leave after the birth of your child if your employer has at 50 employees or you have been employed by the company for one year.


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


This will vary by company, and your employer’s policy on maternity leave.


Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?


Employers are not allowed to discriminate based on your pregnancy status. Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act you are allowed to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave after the birth of your child if your employer has 50 or more employees or you have been employed by the company for one year. If your company does not meet these qualifications, but the company has a sick or disability leave policy, they must make the same accommodations 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?


Sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The law further states that any woman subject to these situations shall be treated and receive the same benefits as an employee who is similar in ability or inability to work. For example, other states have held that this does not protect a pregnant employee from being fired for being absent from work unless the absences of non-pregnant employees are overlooked.


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


No, your employer is not required by state law to pay you while you are on maternity leave. You cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex in that you were denied sick leave with pay and ultimately terminated solely because you were pregnant. If, however, the evidence establishes that only pregnant female employees are required to take mandatory, unpaid leave while male employees suffering temporary physical disabilities are not required to take mandatory, unpaid sick leave or face termination because of any temporary disability, then a case for sexual discrimination may be grounded.


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


Although it is not necessary to inform a prospective employer of your pregnancy status until it becomes an issue for you, you may decide to in order to know if the company will willingly accommodate your needs. Remember, an employer can decide not to hire a candidate for any reason as long as it is not based on sex or other discriminatory factors.


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


No. However, an employer can decide not to hire a candidate for any other reason as long as it is not based on sex or other discriminatory factors (age, race, etc.)


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


Texas law has held that pregnant employees may be required to take leave, or temporarily move to a different job if a business necessity exists that would prevent a pregnant woman from being able to fully perform her duties or put her health or the health and safety of others at risk.


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


If your company offers you health insurance benefits, under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the insurance must cover expenses for pregnancy and related conditions, except abortions, in the same manner as costs for other medical conditions.


I just returned from maternity leave and need to take extra breaks in order to pump milk, but my supervisor won’t allow me to take more than 2 breaks a day. Can I file a claim?


Currently, there is no law requiring business to provide accommodations for breastfeeding. However, a bill was presented to Congress recently that would add such provisions onto existing legislation. Perhaps you can convince you employer to be ahead of the game by meeting your needs.


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


On a federal level, discrimination against unmarried pregnant women is not regulated by the law nor enforced by the EEOC. However, your situation should be treated no differently than that of an unmarried male with a child.


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


At this time, miscarriage and abortion are not covered by the discrimination law in Texas, unless the mother’s life is at stake. You may be covered under your company’s existing mental or temporary disability provisions depending on your condition. Ask your doctor to help you decide if you qualify.


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


In Texas, there is no law requiring the coverage of contraception and abortion in medical plans, unless the mother’s life is at stake.


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


An employer may try to prove that your pregnancy has a direct relationship to job performance by showing that you are unable to perform as required by business necessity. In other words, the different treatment is related to the essence of the employer’s business and is reasonably calculated to further that purpose and no acceptable alternative would have a less discriminatory impact.


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