Pregnancy Discrimination on the Rise

According the Bureau of Labor, women now are the primary wage earners for the majority of American families.  As more women continue to work while pregnant and even late into pregnancy, problems with employment and improper treatment by employers also increases.  The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted over thirty years ago and requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as all other employees.

This means that an employer may not discriminate against a qualified employee simply because she is pregnant. Nor can an employer refuse to hire, promote or retain an employee based solely on the fact that she is pregnant.  Despite these legal protections, many pregnant women continue to suffer demotions, harassment, and even termination due to physical limitations caused by pregnancy and requested leave from work.  The ADA and the FMLA also govern disabilities caused by pregnancy and permitted leave by employees.

The PDA applies not only to women who are pregnant but who have recently given birth.  A Federal Court in Connecticut recently held in Canales v. Schick Manufacturing, Inc., 2011 WL 4345006 (D. Conn. 2011) that a woman does not have to be pregnant at the time of discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  In Canales the employee was terminated while out on maternity leave and the court held that the Act does not just cover pregnancy but “childbirth,” as well.

Alabama law provides no additional legal protections to pregnant women in the workplace.  However, the Federal laws apply to employers and employees throughout the State of Alabama.

Please contact me at (205) 382-3872 or wbeckum@beckumkittle.com for a free consultation.

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