Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

 

What is pregnancy discrimination and does the Washington Law Against Discrimination cover it?

 

Whenever a woman is discriminated against based on her pregnancy, pregnancy-related illnesses or disabilities, or likelihood of becoming pregnant, this is pregnancy discrimination. Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), discrimination on the basis of pregnancy constitutes sex discrimination.

 

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

 

Under the WLAD, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy constitutes sex discrimination. To prove that you have been discriminated against based on your sex, you must show: 1) that you are a member of a protected class (women are a protected class);
2) that you are qualified for the employment position or of performing substantially equal work;
3) an adverse employment decision including termination or denial of promotion was taken against you; and
4) that the person your employer selected as a replacement or for promotion ahead of you is not a pregnant women.

 

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

 

You are not required by law to tell your employer that you are pregnant. Whether or not you should tell your employer is a personal decision. Your employer cannot discriminate against you in any way based on your pregnancy.

 

Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?

 

Washington law prohibits employment discrimination against you based on your potential to become pregnant.

 

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

 

If other employees are provided disability accommodations, you are entitled to the same fair treatment.

 

How do I prove that I need a special accommodation?

 

Since your pregnancy is treated as a disability, you are required to provide the same documentation required by other non-pregnant employees seeking accommodations for a disability.

 

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

 

Under federal law, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are allowed to take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid medical leave, with continued medical benefits and restoration of their original position upon return. You are an eligible employee if you:
1) have worked for the same employer for the previous twelve (12) months; 2) have worked at least one thousand two hundred fifty (1250) hours in the previous twelve (12) months; and

 

Are employed by a "covered" employer, which is:
1) a federal, state, and local governments and agencies; or
2) a private employer that had fifty (50) or more employees for twenty (20) weeks in the calendar year and engaged in interstate commerce.

 

Additionally, Washington employers with one hundred (100) or more employees must also comply with the Washington Family Leave Act. Under that statute, employees are entitled to twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid family leave during any twelve (12) month period to care for a newborn. Unlike FMLA, the Washington Statute grants leave that is in addition to any leave for sickness or temporary disability because of pregnancy or childbirth.

 

Your employer must treat you the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities. For example, if your employer permits extensions of leave time (e.g., use of vacation or leave without pay) for sickness or other temporary disabilities, your employer should permit such extensions for your pregnancy related sickness or disabilities.

 

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

 

It varies from employer to employer. However, your employer is required to allow you to return to the same job, or a similar job of at least the same pay so long as you have taken a leave of absence only for the actual period of disability related to pregnancy unless your employer can show a business necessity.

 

Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?

 

At a minimum, your employer is required to provide you with a leave of absence for the period of time that you are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth. Your employer must treat you the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities. For example, if your employer permits extensions of leave time (e.g., use of vacation or leave without pay) for sickness or other temporary disabilities, your employer should permit such extensions for your pregnancy related sickness or disabilities.

 

In addition, if your employer has one hundred (100) or more employees it must also comply with the Washington Family Leave Act (WFLA). Under the WFLA you are entitled to twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid family leave during any twelve (12) month period to care for a newborn. This leave is in addition to any leave for sickness or temporary disability because of pregnancy or childbirth.

 

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

 

No. Your employer must treat you the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities.

 

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

 

No. However, your employer must treat you the same as other employees on leave for sickness or other temporary disabilities. For example, if your employer provides paid leave for sickness, or other temporary disabilities, your employer should provide paid leave for pregnancy related sickness or disabilities.

 

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

 

You are not required by law to tell your potential employer that you are pregnant. Whether or not you should tell your potential employer is a personal decision. The potential employer cannot discriminate against you in any way based on your pregnancy unless they can demonstrate a business necessity. For example, an employer hiring workers into a training program that cannot accommodate absences for the first two months might be justified in refusing to hire a pregnant woman whose delivery date would occur during those first two months.

 

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

 

No. Washington law prohibits employment discrimination against you based on your potential to become pregnant.

 

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

 

No. It is an unfair practice for an employer, because of pregnancy, to impose different terms and conditions of employment on women unless they can demonstrate a business necessity.

 

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

 

No, the only way you can be kept from doing certain tasks is if you are no longer able to do them because of the "disability" presented by your pregnancy.

 

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

 

No. It is an unfair practice to base employment decisions or actions on negative assumptions about pregnant women such as the fact that clients, co-workers, or customers object to pregnant women on the job.

 

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

 

The answer depends on the health insurance provided by your employer if any coverage is provided at all. Your employer is not required to provide any benefits, including health insurance coverage. However, if your employer does provide such benefits, they must be available to all employees without regard to sex. Thus, if your employer provides health insurance it must include coverage for pregnancy and pregnancy-related 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?

 

No. Washington State law does not specify that women have a right to breastfeed and employers are not prevented from engaging in practices that deter breastfeeding.

 

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

 

No. Your employer is not permitted to treat you differently because you are unmarried and pregnant.

 

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

 

Yes. For the purposes of the WLAD, pregnancy includes pregnancy related conditions including miscarriage or abortion.

 

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

 

No. Employee benefits provided by your employer must be equal for male and female employees. An insurance plan that provides generally comprehensive coverage of prescription drugs or devices may not exclude prescription contraceptives or cover prescription contraceptives on a less favorable basis than other covered prescription drugs and devices. If your employer provides full health insurance coverage to male employees, it must provide full health insurance coverage to you, which includes abortion.

 

If I prove my pregnancy discrimination claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to?

 

Click here for more information on what kind of remedies you may be entitled to under the WLAD.

 

 

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