Pregnancy Discrimination Claims


What is pregnancy discrimination and does the Wisconsin law cover it?


Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats a pregnant employee or applicant less favorably than other employees with non-pregnancy-related disabilities. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) prohibits this type of discrimination.


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


You can prove that you are being discriminated against because of your pregnancy if you can show that you were treated less favorably than other employees with temporary disabilities. Specifically, you must show that:(1) you have a disability (are pregnant); and(2) you suffered an adverse employment action because of your disability.


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


It is your choice whether to inform your employer that you are pregnant. Your employer cannot require you to report your pregnancy. However, it might be a good idea to let your employer know, particularly if you will need special accommodations. Wisconsin law protects you against discrimination based on your pregnancy.


Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?


No. You cannot be fired because you are, or may become, pregnant. You cannot be fired for any reason associated with your pregnancy such as your decision to terminate your pregnancy. The WFEA prohibits this type of discrimination based on sex.


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


Yes. You can ask that your employer make special accommodations if you are unable to perform your job because of your pregnancy. Your employer must treat you in the same manner as it treats other temporarily disabled employees. Depending on your employer's policy, you may request modified tasks, alternative assignments or disability leave with or without pay. Your employer must provide you with the same benefits that are extended to other employees who are temporarily disabled.


How do I prove that I need a special accommodation?


The Equal Rights Division recommends that you ask your doctor for a note specifying your special needs and recommended workplace accommodations.


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


Your employer must provide the same benefits to you when you are disabled by pregnancy as it provides to other temporarily disabled employees. Your employer's policy on temporary disability will determine the amount of leave you are entitled to, and whether such leave is paid or unpaid.


Under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Law, if your employer has fifty (50) or more permanent employees, you are entitled to up to six weeks of unpaid family leave in a twelve (12) month period, following the birth of your child if the leave begins within sixteen (16) weeks of the child's birth.


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


Your employer must hold your job open for your return on the same basis as jobs are held open for employees who are on leave for other temporary disabilities. If you take leave under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Law, you are entitled to your old job back when you return to work if it is still open. If your old job is no longer vacant, you are entitled to a job that provides equivalent compensation and benefits.


Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?


Your employer cannot deny you pregnancy leave if it grants leave to employees for temporary sickness or disability.


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. If you are entitled to sick leave because of company policy or Wisconsin law you cannot be fired to taking such leave simply because you are pregnant.


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


No. Your employer must pay only those benefits that it would normally pay to an employee who goes on disability leave for reasons other than pregnancy.


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. According to the Equal Rights Division's website, you are not required under Wisconsin or Federal laws to disclose your pregnancy to prospective employers.


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


No. It is a violation of Wisconsin's Fair Employment Law for a prospective employer to deny you employment because you are, or may become, pregnant.


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


No. Your employer cannot force you to take leave unless your pregnancy makes it impossible for you to do your job. As with any other medical absence, you and your doctor should decide when you should go on leave and for how long.


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


No. You cannot be reassigned without your consent if your pregnancy doesn't prevent you from doing your usual job.


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


No. According the Equal Rights Division, your employer must not change your job responsibilities simply because of the attitudes of customers or clients towards your pregnancy.


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


If the health insurance you receive from your employer covers the costs of other medical conditions it must provide similar coverage for the costs of your pregnancy.


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?


According to the Equal Rights Division Wisconsin website, Wisconsin law may view the taking breaks to pump milk as child-rearing rather than child-bearing related and therefore may not be covered under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.


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


No. Your employer cannot treat you differently because you are pregnant, unmarried, or because you are pregnant and unmarried. Your employer must also extend to you the same insurance benefits that are given to married employees. Although your employer may not offer coverage for your newborn, it cannot offer coverage to some employees and not to others on the basis of sex.


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


Your employer must treat you in the same manner as it treats other temporarily disabled employees. If you are treated differently because your disability was caused by pregnancy rather than some other medical condition, you can bring a claim against your employer.


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


Under Wisconsin law, if your employer-provided insurance covers prescription drugs, it must also cover prescription contraceptives. However, your employer is not required by law to provide insurance which includes coverage for abortions.


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


Your employer may deny that you were discriminated against because of your pregnancy by offering evidence that the treatment you received was comparable to that of employees with non-pregnancy-related disabilities. You would then have to show that you were treated differently from employees with other disabilities or that they were given better benefits than you were for your pregnancy-related disability.


Does it matter how long ago the discrimination occurred?


You have three hundred (300) days from when the discrimination occurred to file under Wisconsin's Fair Employment law.



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