According to these statistics:
- Each year since 2007 there have been about 5,500 to 6,000 pregnancy discrimination complaints filed each year.
- In 2011 (the last year for which statistics are available), the EEOC received nearly 5,800 new complaints of pregnancy discrimination.
- Over $17 million in benefits was recovered by the EEOC alone during 2011 on behalf of complainants who filed a pregnancy discrimination complaint.
Filing a complaint with the EEOC or Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and attempting to reach a settlement is one way of resolving a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, although it is by no means the only way of resolving your claim. Our experienced Philadelphia pregnancy discrimination lawyers can assess the strength of your case and will recommend the best course of action to protect your rights and obtain a fair and just resolution to your case.
What Qualifies as Pregnancy Discrimination?
The law considers pregnancy to be a temporary disability; therefore, an employer must provide you with the same protections your employer would provide to any other temporarily-disabled worker. If an employer treats an employee with a temporary disability differently than a pregnant employee (for instance, by allowing the temporarily-disabled employee to take more time off of work than the pregnant employee), pregnancy discrimination may have occurred. Common scenarios involving pregnancy discrimination include:
- A company refuses to hire you for a position even though you possess exceptional qualifications because you are pregnant;
- Upon learning of your pregnancy, your supervisor immediately restricts your work activity or relieves you of responsibilities even though you are still physically capable of performing your job duties;
- You are fired after you tell your employer that you are pregnant;
- Your employer regularly allows employees with medical conditions to miss work for doctor’s appointments but you are told you cannot miss work for prenatal appointments with your doctor or, if you do, you must use your vacation time;
- When you are ready to return to work your employer refuses to restore you to the same or a similar position as you held prior to your temporary departure and there is no business reason justifying this decision; and/or
- Your employer uses your pregnancy as a basis to fire you.
In summary, any negative action that an employer takes toward you on the basis of your pregnancy may be considered an instance of pregnancy discrimination if the employer treated you in a negative fashion and in a way that is different than the way your employer treats other employees who also have temporary disabilities.
How Do I Prove My Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?
In any lawsuit, your claim can be proven through direct evidence as well as circumstantial evidence. A pregnancy discrimination lawsuit is no different. Direct evidence is testimony from eyewitnesses who observed or experienced the event, whereas circumstantial evidence can be used to infer that some event did or did not happen:
- Examples of direct evidence: Any statements made by your employer or supervisor concerning your pregnancy and the associated negative employment action are considered direct evidence. For example, if you told your employer you were pregnant and he or she said that you were being placed on restricted duty “until after your baby is born,” this may be considered direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination. The employer does not have to make such statements directly to you; if a coworker overheard your employer discussing your termination and how he would have liked to keep you as an employee but could not given “your current condition,” this too would be direct evidence of discrimination. E-mails and internal correspondence can also be a great source of direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination.
- Examples of circumstantial evidence: Evidence that your employer did not follow the company’s policies regarding temporarily-disabled employees in how he or she treated you can suggest that discrimination on the basis of your pregnancy is the reason why. If an adverse employment decision comes very shortly after you inform your employer that you are pregnant, this too can suggest that you were discriminated against on the basis of your pregnancy.
Your claim of pregnancy discrimination must be supported by some type of evidence. Your Pennsylvania pregnancy discrimination claim lawyer can help you identify, locate, and preserve important evidence and the testimony of essential witnesses. The longer you wait to take action and legal counsel, however, the greater the chances are that evidence important to your claim will be lost.
Contact The Pearce Law Firm for Assistance
Discrimination of any type has no place in the workplace, and this includes pregnancy discrimination. If your employer has treated you unfairly because of your pregnancy, contact The Pearce Law Firm for help. Edith Pearce, founder of The Pearce Law Firm, is dedicated to helping victims of workplace discrimination recover compensation you may be owed. We will aggressively protect your legal rights so that you can focus on your health and the health of your fetus. We offer free initial consultations, so contact our office and speak with our experienced legal team today.