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Working Women No Longer Have to Tolerate Pregnancy Discrimination

It’s a familiar story. A woman becomes pregnant, asks her employer for reasonable accommodations so she can continue working, but gets denied. Naturally she complains. Then the bosses retaliate against her, sometimes severely. The law says they can’t do that.

Recently two such women decided to not remain silent about mistreatment from their employers. They both hired pregnancy discrimination lawyers, who brought their complaints to court. Both women won their cases in very big ways.

The two cases represent women in all types of work, from low paying jobs to extremely well-paying careers. Doris Garcia Hernandez, a Chipotle restaurant employee who had earned great work reviews, was fired shortly after announcing she had become pregnant. Certainly not fair, but this mistreatment happens to highly paid women as well.

Another woman, a defense intelligence office (so we can’t name her) was scheduled for a promotion to a $250,000 per year position. However, she found herself denied a reasonable (and promised) adjustment to her training schedule for that position. The adjustment in training schedule had been promised to accommodate her expected due date. She filed a complaint about that, but her bosses retaliated, and denied her the training, and the promotion.

It’s not unusual. The majority of women that have children also have paying jobs. Since women are such a big part of the workforce, pregnancy discrimination is commonly reported as a rapidly growing type of discrimination in the American workplace.

The court awarded Doris Garcia Hernandez $550,000 in damages. Our unnamed defense intelligence officer was awarded back pay, to make up for $250,000 yearly she would have earned in the higher-paying position, had she been given the scheduled training. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, passed by Congress in 1978, says the courts can make awards like these. That’s good news for pregnant women who want to keep their jobs.

Pregnancy discrimination also includes not being hired because of a pregnancy or even the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Being fired after returning from maternity leave is another common complaint.

The law also says that employers with over 15 paid workers must provide the same additional accommodations to pregnant women that they are required to give any worker with medical disabilities.  United Parcel Service lost a similar case for refusing to offer a pregnant employee light duty work, as prescribed by her physician. During trial it was revealed that UPS had regularly offered light duty work to its injured or disabled employees, but not to its pregnant workers.

Read the Washington Post article, Working while pregnant: To some employers, that’s apparently still a big problem. If you have questions, or if you feel that you’ve been a victim, please contact Feldman Browne Olivares.