June 6, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant
It is illegal for an employer to fire a woman for being pregnant. Despite this, pregnancy discrimination still occurs in some workplaces.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of employment discrimination that violates federal and state laws. Under the pregnancy discrimination act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or job applicants on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This means that an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, or discriminate against a woman for being pregnant or having a pregnancy-related medical condition.
However, some employers still engage in pregnancy discrimination, such as denying promotions, giving unpleasant assignments, or harassing pregnant employees. If you believe you have been discriminated against due to pregnancy, you should consult with an experienced employment lawyer.
Federal Laws And Regulations Protecting Pregnant Employees
Despite significant progress, some employers continue to discriminate against pregnant employees. There are several federal laws and regulations in place to protect the rights of pregnant employees.
Title Vii Of The Civil Rights Act And Pregnancy Discrimination Act:
- Title vii of the civil rights act prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, color, gender, religion, and national origin. In 1978, the pregnancy discrimination act amended title vii to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- It is illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, and job assignments.
- Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as temporary job restructuring, modified work schedules, and time off for pregnancy-related medical appointments.
Family And Medical Leave Act (Fmla):
- The family and medical leave act (fmla) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical reasons, including pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption.
- Fmla guarantees that employees can return to their jobs after taking leave and that their health benefits will continue.
- Employers are required to provide fmla if they have 50 or more employees and if the employee requesting leave has worked for the company for at least a year.
Americans With Disabilities Act (Ada):
- The americans with disabilities act (ada) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities, including pregnancy-related impairments.
- Pregnant employees may qualify for ada protections if they have pregnancy-related conditions that substantially limit their ability to perform essential job functions.
- Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees with disabilities, such as modified work schedules or temporary job restructuring, to allow them to perform their essential job functions.
Remember that pregnant employees are protected by federal laws and regulations. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against them or deny them reasonable accommodations. If you suspect that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, consult an experienced employment attorney to learn more about your rights.
Scenarios Where Pregnant Employees Can Be Fired
The Issue Of At-Will Employment
Pregnancy discrimination is a serious concern for working women, with many questions surrounding the legality of an employer firing a pregnant employee. However, in most states across the united states, “at-will” employment laws mean that an employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason, as long as it is not discriminatory or illegal.
Pregnant employees are not exempt from these laws, which vary from state to state.
Reasons Why Employers May Fire Pregnant Employees
Employers may not discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, but there are other reasons why an employer may terminate a pregnant employee’s contract.
Some reasons why employers may fire a pregnant employee are:
- The employee’s role is no longer necessary or has been made redundant.
- The employee demonstrates poor performance or violates the company’s policies.
- The employee’s position is a safety risk for them or their unborn child.
While these reasons may seem valid, they could also be a cover-up for pregnancy discrimination.
Examples Of When A Pregnant Employee Can File A Legal Complaint Against Their Employer
Pregnant employees have state and federal laws to protect them against unfair and discriminatory acts in the workplace. Here are a few scenarios that are illegal under the law, leading to a potential legal complaint:
- An employer fires an employee solely based on her pregnancy.
- An employer refuses to grant maternity leave and benefits to a pregnant employee.
- An employer demotes or makes changes to the employee’s position solely based on the pregnancy.
- An employer does not make reasonable accommodations, such as providing extra breaks or making physical changes to the employee’s workstation to make it achievable, for a pregnant employee to perform their job.
Pregnancy discrimination can have serious consequences for pregnant employees, leading to mental, emotional, and financial distress for families. While some pregnant employees may be fired for valid reasons, it is essential to understand the laws surrounding pregnancy and discrimination in the workplace.
Employees who have experienced pregnancy discrimination can file a legal complaint against their employers.
What To Do If You Have Been Fired While Pregnant
Getting fired from a job when you’re pregnant can be a devastating experience to go through. In addition to the financial and emotional strain, you may be left feeling lost and uncertain about your rights. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to assert your legal authority.
If you’ve been fired due to your pregnancy, here’s what you can do:
Steps To Take If You Have Been Fired
- Get your facts straight: Review the employment contract, employee handbook, and any documentation related to your termination. Make sure you understand the reason behind your dismissal.
- Consult an attorney: Contact an attorney who specializes in employment law for pregnant women. A legal expert can help you evaluate the situation and determine if you have a discrimination case against your employer.
- File a complaint: If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, file a complaint with the equal employment opportunity commission (eeoc). The eeoc is responsible for enforcing federal employment discrimination laws.
- Document everything: Record everything related to your termination, including conversations, emails, and any other communication with your employer or supervisor. Keep a copy of any relevant documentation, such as your termination letter or performance evaluations.
Your Rights To Compensation
If you have been fired due to your pregnancy, you may be entitled to compensation. Here are some of your rights as a pregnant employee:
- Family and medical leave act (fmla): If you are eligible, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the fmla. This applies to companies with more than 50 employees.
- Pregnancy discrimination act (pda): The pda is a federal law that protects pregnant employees from discrimination in the workplace. This includes being denied promotions or being fired due to pregnancy.
- State laws: Some states have their own laws that provide additional protection for pregnant women, such as requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions.
Getting fired while pregnant can be a challenging situation, but it’s important to remember that you have rights. Consult with an attorney, document everything, and file a complaint if necessary. By taking steps to protect yourself, you can ensure that your rights are upheld and you receive the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions For Can You Get Fired For Being Pregnant?
Can You Lose Your Job For Being Pregnant?
No, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because of pregnancy.
Can A Company Deny Maternity Leave?
No, under federal law, eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.
Can You Be Fired While On Maternity Leave?
No, if you are on approved maternity leave, your employer is not allowed to terminate your employment.
Can An Employer Ask If You Are Pregnant?
No, it is illegal for an employer to ask if you are pregnant during the hiring process.
Can You Be Denied A Promotion Because Of Pregnancy?
No, it is illegal to deny a promotion or any other opportunity for advancement due to pregnancy.
It is important for employers to adhere to pregnancy discrimination laws and ensure that pregnant employees are treated fairly. Discriminating against an employee for being pregnant is not only unethical but also illegal. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy, you should immediately report it to your employer.
Seek legal advice if the situation is not resolved. It is also important to know your rights as a pregnant employee including your right to maternity leave and accommodation. It is essential for employers to create a supportive and inclusive workplace for pregnant employees.
We need to collectively work towards creating a society where being pregnant doesn’t pose a threat to one’s job security and well-being. Let’s raise our voice against pregnancy discrimination and ensure a better future for all of us.
About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)
The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …