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Pregnancy Discrimination: What You Have to Prove

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”) protects your rights as a pregnant employee. If you think you have a discrimination case consider the following:

Your Company Size

The PDA only governs companies that employ greater than 15 people. If you work for a smaller company, or work part-time, you are not covered by it.


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Direct Discrimination and Unfairness

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a document of fairness. It states the same accommodations made for injured or incapacitated employees (or candidates) must be given to a pregnant employee. For instance, if an employee is unable to do his job (temporarily) because of a fall and the company requires him to go on medical leave and use his vacation to supplement his income, a pregnant employee who is incapacitated due to her pregnancy must do the same if she is unable to perform her job. If the company allows the non-pregnant employee to go out on leave and retain his job, they must do the same for the pregnant employee.

A successful pregnancy discrimination case will prove unfair treatment. The most clear-cut cases are able to show one group of employees treated one way, while the pregnant employee is treated differently. This is direct discrimination generally easily proved with a quick look at the employee handbook and some documentation.

If you have a case like this you’ll want to gather up:

  • a copy of your employee handbook
  • emails or notes on conversations between you and your manager (and/or HR) about your pregnancy or leave
  • emails or notes on conversations with other employees on their experiences with leave and special accommodations
  • any evidence of direct discrimination, such as your employer admitting a decision was based on your pregnancy

Make sure all notes are dated and everyone involved in conversations is listed.

Some cases are not as cut and dry as is the case currently being heard by the Supreme Court, Young versus United Parcel Service “UPS.” When a former UPS driver Peggy Young became pregnant and was unable to fulfill her job duties based on a medical restriction, she was placed on unpaid leave. She alleges UPS makes accommodations for other employees unable to meet their job duties. UPS does make arrangements for incapacitated employees, if their injury was caused on the job. Employees who injure themselves outside of work are treated the way Young was. Young appears to have been treated equally, but not all employees are treated equally. It will be interesting to watch how the Court decides this case.

Examples of Circumstantial Evidence of Discrimination

If your employer hasn’t directly admitted making a decision based on your pregnancy, you still may be able to prove discrimination and unfair practices.

Look for the following discrepancies in how your situation was handled:

  • They didn’t follow the usual termination procedures.
  • Suspicious timing. Notice a trend? Are all pregnant employees gone by their third trimester?
  • Convenience. Were you let go just before going on leave or right before a promotion was announced?
  • Unfairness. You’re terminated for a reason that doesn’t make sense like you’ve missed too many days and there are people in your department with longer absences.

Whatever the case, if you’ve been terminated, placed on leave, or passed over because of your pregnancy don’t worry. Contact a group of tenacious employment attorneys who can help. Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today for a free consultation at 813-579-2483.

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